Wise Guys on WHO Radio - March 20, 2014

Brian Gongol

The WHO Radio Wise Guys airs on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 1 to 2 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. A podcast of show highlights is also available. Leave comments and questions on the Wise Guys Facebook page or e-mail them to wiseguys@whoradio.com.

Guest appearance on Simon Conway's afternoon show

Smartphone antivirus protection: Why you need it

Why have antivirus protection on your smartphone?

1. If you're like most people, you take lots of pictures and videos with your phone. They don't have to be kinky for you to still not want them stolen and posted all over the Internet.

2. Your phone is with you in intimate situations where no other computer would be -- in the bathroom, in private meetings, in the doctor's office, and on your nightstand. If you don't want someone snooping on you in those places, you'd better protect yourself.

3. Phones are rapidly becoming storerooms for payment data, like Google Wallet, PayPal, credit cards, and bank accounts. Criminals know this and they're willing to exploit users' naivete about security. Remember: You don't put a deadbolt on your front door just to keep theives out -- it's a visible deterrent. You want the crook to look for an easier target than you.

4. Smartphones are almost always programmed to constantly check your e-mail -- which is the "key to the kingdom" as far as your online privacy is concerned.

5. You can't be sure that every app is safe. Having a good antivirus program may help signal to you when you've installed a risky program.

Other good reasons to have antivirus protection on your smartphone

Many good antivirus programs have a "locate/kill-switch" option -- helping you to locate your phone if it gets lost, and wipe it clear if it's stolen.

Antivirus is a reasonable insurance policy to put on one of your most vulnerable and important components of your online life.

Note that "antivirus" doesn't fully explain what most of these do -- they're actually anti-malware of many types. There are viruses, Trojan horses, keystroke loggers, spyware, and plenty of other threats to worry about -- including phishing sites. While anti-malware protection doesn't mean you're 100% safe, it's like a seat belt -- it's highly effective, and it doesn't work if you don't use it.

What protection to get

Kaspersky makes a well-regarded anti-malware program for $15 on Android.

It's tougher to make a recommendation for iPhones -- Apple resists efforts by outside companies to offer security software, even though crooked apps have slipped through their App Store vetting process. The iPhone may tend to be more resistant to attack than Android phones (partially due to the Wild West nature of the Google Play store), but it's not impervious and there is good reason for grave concern about the false sense of security that many iPhone users have. There is a Norton antivirus product that claims to offer some security for iPhones, but it's hard to say whether it's worthy of recommendation. Kaspersky seems to offer a browser-protection program, but that may be as far as it goes on the iOS. But that, at least, is probably better than nothing, since one publicly-acknowledged security flaw involved a software bug that let websites bypass security verification. And therein lies the problem: Security holes are, as often as not, the result of judgment calls by the user. Users have to be on guard at all times, and anything that lulls them into a false sense of security is a serious security flaw in and of itself.