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Mobile Phones at Risk, but MS Not the Target
Posted: 25-Jan-2005 [Source: ABI]

[Although the Symbian OS has been heaviest hit by mobile viruses, ABI encourges all mobile OS developers to put greater effort into security.]

Oyster Bay, NY -- While viruses and worms aimed at desktop computers or servers are nothing new, mobile viruses are only now starting to represent a serious problem. And for many OS designers and network operators, the remoteness of the threat meant that they put too little effort into guaranteeing security in the handset. But, according to ABI Research, users may increasingly factor operating system security into their buying decisions when considering cell phone purchases.

Most of today's mobile viruses spread via SMS text messages, and while malicious, the have not been devastatingly harmful. But the havoc they could wreak, were they more sophisticated, has analysts like Brian Pellegrini worried. "What if a virus infecting your phone started buying hundreds of ringtones?" he asks. "What about Bluetooth? Designers of Bluetooth-equipped phones have not adequately addressed security issues, and you could potentially see viruses spreading spontaneously between two phone-carrying people who pass each other on the street... just like real human viruses."

"The interesting thing," adds Pellegrini, "is that in contrast to computer viruses, the mobile phone versions have not, by and large, targeted Microsoft's mobile OS, but Symbian's, which holds about an 85% share of the market." It seems that virus authors are willing to forego their traditional antipathy to all things Microsoft, if it means reaching a larger pool of victims.

All creators of portable OSs need to devote more effort to security, Pellegrini believes, and the network operators need to get much more involved as well.


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