At the tone leave your virus

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Content Copyright © 2007 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.

We all know that malware writers produce their evil spawn to either target the most number of vulnerable systems or hit a particular organisation. In fact the latter is becoming more prevalent as these attacks can fall below the radar coverage of conventional AV software.

But what of mobile phone viruses? Despite a couple of false starts over the years mobile phones have never been hit on the scale of the humble Windows PC. This is curious, as most people in the industrialised world carry a phone with them making these a ripe target for hackers. Just think about the type of data on your phone, some of which is undoubtedly private and in many cases confidential.

One company taking the threat of mobile phone viruses seriously is McAfee, of anti virus fame. In fact McAfee are not new to this market, and already cite 40 million devices across 41 handsets shipping with their embedded technology.

According to McAfee these hackers are looking for the “holy grail” of cross platform malware capable of affecting PCs and a myriad of handheld devices. Even if some of these techniques are technically difficult, many would say that we are not far from seeing a first time “perfect storm” of PC and mobile device malware.

Some of the old favourites are also being deployed across mobile phones. Phishing over SMS is starting to take off as the bad people try social engineering tricks to get phone users to reveal their private data, this being a low tech entry point to mobile phone abuse.

The mobile network operators are also waking up to the malware threat as they see their network infrastructures coming under the spotlight of malware authors. Whereas a vendor such as Microsoft can issue patches and then consider their job done, if a mobile phone becomes infected then it will be out of service, losing the network operator billing revenue. Couple this with reputational risk and the low level of customer loyalty to a network operator and we can start to see very big and damaging affects on the service providers.

For some the threat of mobile phone malware is nothing other than a fantasy. I would suggest that today’s fantasy is often becoming tomorrow’s reality, and we all need to understand and plan for this threat today.