Tag Archives: Spyware

Do You Need to Install Anti-Virus Software on Your Windows Phone?

I’m not concerned about viruses, malware or spyware invading my Windows Phone, and I don’t think you need to be concerned about them either for several reasons:

    1. The Windows Phone population is quite small. The people that write viruses hope to get the biggest bang for the smallest buck, so most of these folks probably aren’t interested in dinking around with such a small Windows Phone population and would most likely apply their talents elsewhere. But even if someone decided to write a virus to run on Windows Phone, it would be really difficult to actually install it to a phone.
    2. The only apps you can install to a Windows Phone are the apps found in the Windows Phone Marketplace.  All apps in the Marketplace have been reviewed and approved by Microsoft, so the likelihood of a developer sneaking a virus, malware or spyware on an app is pretty small
    3. Any app-related or app-created data is stored within the app’s exclusive file system which is partitioned off into its own “sandbox” – which is distinctly separate from the phone’s other app and system files. A third party app can only play within its own “sandbox,” so there isn’t a way for a third party app’s activity to invade the phone’s other app or system files. Even if an app managed to sneak some kind of nefarious virus/malware/spyware code onto a phone, the bad code would only be able to wreak havoc in the app’s own sandbox….what fun would that be
    4. Windows Phones run a distinctly different operating system than a Windows computer so the viruses/malware/spyware that affect computers won’t affect Windows Phones. Even if you managed to download some infected file from the internet, it wouldn’t run in the windows phone environment.
    5. There have been no confirmed instances of a destructive virus infecting a Windows Phone.

Over the years, there have been some “proof of concept” attempts by hackers to breach Windows Phones app sandbox security or to “jail break” the phone (much in the same fashion as Android devices), but none of these attempts have gained much traction before Microsoft closed the hole that was used by the hack.

Every now and then I’ll read about some rumored Windows Phone viruses/malware/spyware, but so far none of these rumors have ever materialized into any kind of real threat.  To date, there has not been any confirmed report of a viable virus, malware or spyware attack against Windows Phone.

You won’t find any antivirus apps in the Windows Phone marketplace.  But even if such an app existed, I wouldn’t install it to my phone…..The nature of antivirus software is to run continuously in the background, so installing and running antivirus software on a Windows Phone would most likely degrade the phone’s performance.  The use of such an app for a perceived threat that has yet to materialize just seems like overkill.

Installing antivirus software on a computer or a mobile device often gives a false sense of security and these common sense guidelines prevail:

  • Selecting questionable links in email messages, on websites, etc. should be avoided
  • Accessing any sensitive sites from any kind of device via a free wifi hotspot should be avoided.
    • The practice of jail breaking or side loading applications should be avoided (this practice is not possible on windows phone at this time).
  • Back up your computers and devices regularly. Then if your devices ever start acting strange, you can recover them by perform a factory reset and restoring your backed up data to them, thereby minimizing the loss of data when doing so.

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