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Reader Question

Q: For my smartphone, do I need to get spyware or an anti-virus thing on it? If so any good ones you want to recommend?

A: I’ve gone for years without one on my phone, for the most part there are fewer viruses for Android or iOS than say Windows desktop PCs. So there is inherently less risk. That being said, there are viruses out there that could affect your device, so it may be worth looking into.

There are a lot of people who will just flat out tell you that you do not need one for smartphones or tablets. For the most part I think this is absolutely true. At this time there are not droves of viruses that are designed to attack mobile OS, and even if it avoids the filters to get into an app store, most of then still need to be user initiated. Android OS has always had the ability to load apps that are not in the store — if you find an .apk file, that is an android app file and these can be manipulated to contain viruses, etc., just like windows viruses but still require the user to actually download the file and install it. This means that if someone texts you a link and says it’s a video file or special message, if it’s not the appropriate file extension — i.e. .jpg or .png for images, .mov or .m4v for video — it may be a risky link. There are very few rogue virus apps that make it into the store so if you check reviews, use some common sense and be cautious — you should be OK. Antivirus apps have tended to be heavier apps and you may notice a lag in your performance speeds.

The real danger in losing mobile access is having one of your services hacked, or breached, and then losing access that way. If one of your accounts is compromised, in this world of cloud computing, there is a greater risk of having anything linked to that same breached account as well. For a good example of this, look up the story of Mat Honan of Wired. He recently got hacked, for no real reason, and nearly lost all of his personal family photos, videos, etc., because of security flaws with some of the accounts he used and how they link together in how you can retrieve passwords. What his story shows is that no one is truly 100 percent safe but Honan has some good advice for avoiding some big time mistakes.

Long story short, only download apps you trust, don’t click funny links, and you should be OK.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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