HAS YOUR PHONE HAD ITS SHOTS?
Don’t be surprised if your next cellphone comes preinstalled with antivirus software. As mobile broadband takes off, handsets are increasingly being used to access the Internet. But this makes them prone to infection by the same type of electronic nasties that afflict PC users.
Cellphone viruses are still in their infancy but could present a big threat in the next few years as they become more commonplace. They are already starting to have an impact.
The first mobile virus, Cabir, was released in July 2004. A proof-of-concept virus, Cabir replicated using Bluetooth, the short-range wireless technology incorporated into most modern cellphones. Cabir runs on devices that use the Symbian operating system. Other mobile viruses include Duts (which infects PocketPC devices), Skulls (which replaces phone desktop icons with skulls) and Comwar, which uses both multimedia messages and Bluetooth to spread.
«Almost one business in five has suffered some significant financial impact due to virus attacks via mobile networks,» says Patrick Evans, regional director for Africa at security software company Symantec.
«Today, hackers are researching new vulnerabilities, the possibility of a worm or some other type of malicious code propagating by exploiting vulnerabilities identified in both wired and wireless devices,» Evans says.
For now, the biggest threat is from PC viruses that have migrated to mobile devices. There are about 20 viruses that are specifically designed to attack cellphones, says Karel Rode, business technologist at enterprise software vendor CA. But he thinks that as the computing power of cellphones increases, so will the threat of infection.
Many viruses designed for PCs could eventually come to infect cellular handsets as these devices become more integrated with the Internet.
Evans says this trend makes mobile and wireless security even more important for businesses.