How to not have my handheld turned into an expensive virus-addled paperweight
February 16, 2006 5:47 PM   Subscribe

I understand that certain handhelds (the DS and PSP come to mind) can actually be rendered useless and unsalvageable by malicious software. If I bought a smartphone what feature would I be looking for that would ensure me that like a PC, I could always do a fresh install if things got too virusey?

For more background on the DS and PSP viruses just google 'handheld virus useless'
posted by dino terror to Technology (6 answers total)
These "handheld viruses" are pieces of software claiming to be firmware upgrades so that you can run homebrew software on your device. When in fact, it just corrupts the firmware and bricks your device.

If you get a smartphone, you shouldn't really have to worry about viruses unless you download programs from shady FTPs and the like, or keep bluetooth on at all times. Even the bluetooth virii that are out there are mostly benign proof-of-concept type stuff. I believe there are free virus scanners available that can get rid of them too. If you were to mess up your handheld beyond the point of recognition, Nokia phones have codes you can enter to restore the phone to its factory state.

My advice is to get the phone that you like best, and don't worry about virii.
posted by mr.dan at 6:12 PM on February 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just don't install firmware updates from untrusted sources. (many phones don't even allow users to update the firmware anyway)
posted by reverendX at 6:59 PM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: But i do remember reading about cellphones that had been permanently screwed due to viruses. Im wondering if the industry is working on how to prevent this from happening...
posted by dino terror at 7:43 PM on February 16, 2006

posted by andendau at 8:07 PM on February 16, 2006

Response by poster: Please, elaborate if you could...
posted by dino terror at 9:00 PM on February 16, 2006

The only way to prevent it would be to include a non-updateable firmware, which I don't think many people do these days. Or I suppose require the user to hold a button down while flashing, like my Samsung MP3 player does.

Personally, I just wouldn't worry about it. It sounds like the PSP and DS issues are more of people manually updating the firmware with garbage in hopes of playing pirated or homebrew games. That's hardly new. Back in high school everyone had this calculator that let you enter in hex machine code in the program editor, after all their old calculators got hacked and hacked games, etc became incredibly popular. I leaned the hex for a program that was basically "10: goto 10", which completely locked up the calculator and required the user to remove the batteries and the backup battery for a few minutes in order to get it to work again.
posted by delmoi at 9:32 PM on February 16, 2006

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