The number of cell phone viruses and Trojans has doubled in the past seven months, leaping from 100 to 200 since October of 2005, according to researchers at F-Secure. While the actual number of mobile malware remains miniscule compared to its PC brethren, the growth rate is cause for concern. Malware writers took sixteen months to reach the 100 mark; now they???ve doubled their output in half the time.
And as mobile phones turn into a platform to make purchases and conduct other financial transactions, malware writers will have more incentive to target them. Mobile phones are also a potential vector for malware to enter the enterprise network: one proof-of-concept mobile virus attempts to load a worm onto a Windows PC when the phone is synched with the computer.
That said, the sky is clearly not falling--particularly in the United States. Most mobile devices and PDAs in the States run Windows Mobile, but the majority of mobile malware targets the Symbian OS, which is widely used in Europe.
In addition, malware writers have yet to hit on a sure-fire propagation method, though they are experimenting with Bluetooth and good old social engineering.
Still, security architects would be wise to at least sketch out a policy regarding mobile devices???even if you don???t issue them to end users, they will bring in their own from home. Most AV vendors offer mobile anti-malware, and Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro and F-Secure are slated to release centrally managed solutions this year.Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop. View Full Bio