Virus risk increases with mobile technology development

As the number of mobile devices increases, Cliff Saran talks to Sandra England of PGP Security about the risk of mobile viruses

As the number of mobile devices increases, Cliff Saran talks to Sandra England of PGP Security about the risk of mobile viruses

It may be a solution waiting for a problem, but Sandra England, president of PGP Security, Network Associates' security and hacking division, is adamant mobile phone viruses are inevitable.

Psion has urged users to put in place tight policies owing to the obvious security risk these devices pose when configured to access confidential corporate information.

Security breaches on mobile devices number only a handful today. But as new mobile applications are developed, said Network Associates' England, "The number of viruses and invasion of privacy [attacks] will grow as well." Unlike e-commerce, England believes the mobile industry is well prepared for future hacking and virus attacks. "The focus in e-business is to get the site up and running… security is sometimes an afterthought." She said that on mobiles security is considered up-front because these devices will become so prevalent among the user community.

Psion for instance, has estimated that as many as 75,000 new PDAs were shipped over Christmas alone. "What's important," she noted, "Is to put security and anti-virus software at the application layer." And today she said Network Associates has something to offer here, in the form of software development kits for building security into applications.

But could this all just be a case of the IT industry "crying wolf." As far as Ovum senior analyst Graham Titterington is concerned there is not much need for mobile anti-virus and security measures today.

"Most mobile phones today are computationally pretty limited. PDAs have the power but at the moment it is not worth hackers' effort [to target such devices]." This is because in the main they are used as unconnected devices. The risk, Titterington anticipates will, occur when smart phones with built-in PDAs are connected to always-on mobile networks such as GPRS.

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