CA And F-Secure Tangle Over Mobile Malware Threat - InformationWeek

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7/25/2006
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CA And F-Secure Tangle Over Mobile Malware Threat

CA contends the only mobile malware threats out there are all proof-of-concept. But F-Secure says it has counted more than 300 mobile threats.

CA reacted sharply this week to a deal by Finnish security vendor F-Secure to provide mobile antivirus service to a U.K. telecommunications company.

On Monday, CA issued a statement from its European offices that claimed F-Secure was trying to boost its sales by hyping the malware threat to mobile devices, said Sam Curry, vice president of product management at CA, Islandia, N.Y.

"The only [mobile malware] we are seeing is proof-of-concept," Curry said. "There are no worms or trojans that are a massive threat [to mobile devices]."

CA's statement, as well as public comments made in the past week by Simon Perry, European vice president of security for CA, came in response to a deal announced July 12 by Helsinki, Finland-based F-Secure and Orange Personal Communications Services, according to Curry. The pact calls for F-Secure to provide its F-Secure Mobile Anti-Virus service to Orange UK in the third quarter, he said.

In an e-mail to CRN, Mikko Hypponen, manager of antivirus research at F-Secure, said mobile malware is a real threat and his company isn't hyping it.

"Indeed, we're warning about the threat of mobile malware," Hypponen said in the e-mail. "This risk is not invented. It's not theoretical, nor is it hypothetical.

"Our count of mobile malware is now over 300," he wrote. "F-Secure is far from being the only company warning about malware on mobile devices. Companies that are working in the field and actually shipping products to protect users include global players like McAfee, Trend Micro and Symantec."

"If we ignore this problem now it's only going to get worse," Hypponen noted in the e-mail.

CA's Curry said mobile malware is easily hyped because of the degree of convergence occurring between networked computers and mobile devices, but in reality there's currently little financial incentive for hackers to target mobile devices.

Mobile devices "are not attractive targets," said Curry, who added that any real threat to mobile devices is a "distant" one.

CA sells a mobile antivirus product called eTrust Antivirus for Mobile Devices. Posted on CA's online Virus Information Center are two downloadable signatures for viruses aimed at Pocket PCs and Smart Phones.

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