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Can You Get a Virus From Opening an Email on Your Phone?

Last Updated May 30, 2022
Computer with Binary screen

Imagine one day your phone dings telling you that you have a new email. You see that it’s from a company you’ve never heard of before. You get nervous and wonder: if I open this, can it infect my phone with a virus? It seems important, but you don’t want to be wrong and have all your personal data compromised.

Generally speaking, the action of opening an email alone will not infect a phone with a virus. Every major email client app disables email scripting, which would be the delivery method to unleash a virus simply by opening.

Once you have opened a suspicious email, however, there are things that you can do to the open email that will infect your phone with a virus. Keep reading to find out how to avoid any chance of getting a virus on your phone through emails.

Make Sure You Have Up-to-Date Software

There are many benefits to keeping good, up-to-date software on your phone. The paramount reason is cyber security, a large threat to personal security. Having safeguards to protect your personal data through software can make a large difference, even protecting you from identity theft.

Install an Antivirus Software App

Anti-virus software used to be just associated with desktop and laptop computers, but app versions have been gaining traction. From 2013 to 2018 alone, the number of mobile security users quadrupled!

Such apps will protect your phone from any unwanted attempts at accessing your data.  They can scan your phone for any malicious file downloads, and many of them often will give you real-time alerts to potential threats on websites you may visit.

Keep Up-to-Date on Your Software

Many email clients release security updates on their apps. It is necessary to keep up-to-date on these to make sure your email security is rock solid. Also, keep up-to-date on any mobile security software you may have installed. This could be the difference between stopping the latest virus or changing your bank accounts.  

Many of these updates in the security software (and even those in the email clients) can help identify and catch the newest virus. 

Check the Email for Inconsistencies

Some malicious emails do not care very much about grammar. Even if they do look official, they may have something in them that just doesn’t add up or looks very unprofessional.  

Check the email for:

  • Unusual subject lines that don’t make sense
  • Frequently misspelled text or very bad grammar
  • An email body that does not relate to the subject line
  • An overabundance of embedded links
  • A well-known company whose logo looks different
  • An email from a company asking for personal information that has never asked it from you in the past

All these issues are a dead giveaway that this email is probably containing something malicious.

Do Not Download Anything

Most viruses get into mobile devices through a download. These downloads are engaged by the receiver interacting in some way with the file.

Do Not Download Attachments From Untrusted Sources

This is the most crucial tip for interacting with a suspicious email. You must not open any attachments that look fake or that you are not expecting. This is the primary way that viruses are used to get into your phone, tablet, or computer.

Do not open an attachment from an email account that you don’t recognize, or whose file extension doesn’t look right. The Trojan Horse type of virus is typically infected through an attachment pretending to be an email that looks important.  

The moral of the story is this: if the attachment looks suspicious, it probably is!

Do Not Download Executable Files

Executable files (.exe) are often compromised, even through a known email. The best way to avoid getting a virus is to not open an executable file as an attachment, even if they are from a known sender.

A better alternative can be found in SFTP. This is a secure file transfer where files can be verified and sent in a more secure way (similar to HTTPS).

Do Not Click on Embedded Links

Another way that viruses can spread to a phone is through clicking on a link that is embedded in the text.

When an unsuspecting person clicks on an embedded link to a virus, the website can be set up to automatically download a program onto your phone and infect a virus onto the device.

If the link URL is any of the following, do not click on it:

  • Extremely, and unnecessarily long
  • Contains many random characters
  • A link from a website you don’t recognize

The text of an embedded link can be anything, so it might look important. Sadly, it is harder to preview the URL of the embedded link before clicking on it on a mobile application. If your email client has the capability to preview the URL, check it. 

Conclusion

Protecting your phone from malicious emails is crucial. It’s important to know that emails have the capability to release a virus onto your phone, but it’s even more important to know the signs of a malicious email.

Having the right facts on how to identify and avoid email-based viruses is critical to avoiding them. With these takeaways, you can rest easier about that suspicious email that’s sitting in the trash can.

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