Do Cell Phones Get Viruses?

A single virus can destroy a computer hard drive in a matter of minutes. Since modern cell phones are like miniature computers, many people wonder if they, too, are vulnerable to infection. Do cell phone get viruses? If so, how can you fix or avoid a virus?

Cell Phones Can Get Viruses

Cell phones can get viruses just like computers, but the chances of that taking place are very low. There are numerous operating systems on a cell phone, and each one requires its own coding. For a virus to be successful, it has to be incredibly widespread. That means the virus coders have to make it work on multiple platforms, each with their own security issues and general functionalities.

Of the wide range of operating systems on the market, the iOS on iPhones is the most popular. It has the same strong security found in Mac computers and iPads, making it very hard to create a virus. This makes Windows the next logical target because it is expansive and more vulnerable. Nevertheless, it is not expansive enough for most virus creators to infect. It is easier for them to hack thousands of computers than it is to put a virus on a handful of mobile phones.

How Cell Phones Get Viruses

Here are some of the most common ways viruses get on cell phones:

  • Browsing the Internet: You can get a virus from a bad website on your phone, even if you’re only viewing a mobile version of the site. Be careful what you download to your phone off the Internet, especially if you’re on a site you don’t know much about.
  • Downloading apps: Apps may seem safe to download, and for the most part, they are. Some of them come with nasty attachments though, or they gain access to information you probably don’t want them to have. Read the terms of any app you want to download to see what it will access on your phone. Your emails, text messages and contacts may be at risk.
  • Opening attachments: If an email comes with an attachment, wait to open it on a computer that has good Internet security. Viruses can be embedded into these attachments, even if the person sending them is a friend. If he just forwards a message from his computer, he may never know there is a problem linked in the email.
  • Connecting to computers: Any time you connect your phone to your computer, you open the option of a virus entering your phone. If there are mobile viruses waiting on your computer, they can get in through a simple USB connection. Make sure you scan your computer for viruses before you connect, and keep an eye on your phone afterward.
  • Using Bluetooth: Bluetooth devices are very susceptible to airborne viruses. Turn off your Bluetooth when you are not using it in order to minimize your risk as much as possible.

How to Fix and Avoid Cell Phone Viruses

In addition to these suggestions, you might also consider downloading an anti-virus program for your cell phone much like you would for your computer. Many of the good ones on the market cost money, but they add an extra layer of protection to your phone. Research customer reviews before committing to a specific app in case that app is nothing more than a thinly veiled virus.

Another option to consider is using a basic phone instead of a smartphone. If you have no need for the Internet on your phone, you can save time, worry and money by getting a standard phone to make calls. These devices may seem somewhat obsolete, but you can still find a few models with most cell phone carriers.

In terms of fixing a virus that is already on your system, you can do one of two things. You can either run an anti-virus program to quarantine and remove it, or you can reset the device back to factory settings. Most new phones will maintain your files during this reset so you don’t lose pictures, videos and music. If your phone does not have that option, you may want to download your files to your computer before wiping it clean. Just note that there is a chance that this could transfer the virus to the computer.

Do cell phones get viruses? Yes, but not often. Use these tips, and you will minimize the risk of getting a virus on your phone.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.