Will Malware Hit Smartphones In 2011? - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile
Commentary
12/23/2010
12:32 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
50%
50%

Will Malware Hit Smartphones In 2011?

Malware, viruses and the like have been a routine part of life for PC owners for years, at least if you are running Windows. Smartphone users have been largely ignored by the malware community, but that will inevitably change. Will it be sooner rather than later?

Malware, viruses and the like have been a routine part of life for PC owners for years, at least if you are running Windows. Smartphone users have been largely ignored by the malware community, but that will inevitably change. Will it be sooner rather than later?Windows users have been the target mostly because of their vast numbers. Why target a platform with two percent share when you can go after one with over 90 percent share? As smartphones become more popular, it will be worth targeting them as well. They are all online, they often have sensitive data on them and users regularly engage in banking and ecommerce transactions, everything a malware author loves to hear.

NetworkWorld has an article on the main threats that loom for smartphones. They are:

  • Rogue applications
  • Traditional malware
  • Privacy and data collection issues
  • Social engineering
These are the same threats that PC users face. Rogue applications, while a real threat, should not be a huge concern. Most mobile platforms have their apps funneled through an app store that verifies an app does what it advertises and won't cause any problems. Even if one gets through, the owner of the app store can remotely remove the rogue app, thus protecting the user, the phone and potentially the network.

Likewise, other malware shouldn't be much of an issue either. If you are only getting your apps through your platform's application store, external apps shouldn't be able to get on your device, no matter how hard you try. However, if you jailbreak your phone so you can open it up to other apps, you also open it up to malicious programs outside of an application store.

Now, there are very valid reasons to jailbreak your device, a process that US court systems have declared legal. If you do though, you just need to be aware of the risks. Unlike a PC, your smartphone doesn't have anti-virus protection, nor should it. Those little devices sometimes are working full out just to move menus around seamlessly for you. They don't need the drag of antivirus apps sucking the power from your processor.

The one that will be the most serious is social engineering. Too many people fall prey to this on their PCs by clicking on links and allowing actions in the hopes of getting a really cool sparkly cursor, or to help some prince in a foreign land get his money out of the country. It is like they say, you can't cure stupid.

One of the best protections against this is to use a service like OpenDNS which blocks phishing sites and similar destinations of social engineering tricks. However, this type of option isn't available to many smartphone owners.

I think the risk of malware is real, but it isn't imminent. Platform designers have learned a lot since the days of Slammer and Blaster. As users, we just have to be prudent about where we go and what we click and your phone should not be a source of concern for you.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
2017 State of the Cloud Report
As the use of public cloud becomes a given, IT leaders must navigate the transition and advocate for management tools or architectures that allow them to realize the benefits they seek. Download this report to explore the issues and how to best leverage the cloud moving forward.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of November 6, 2016. We'll be talking with the InformationWeek.com editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll