Mobile Madness


Is it just me, or is the buzz around viruses that could infiltrate mobile phones or other embedded systems growing louder?

I got a kick out of this detailed post (complete with photos!) from the security lab guys at F-Secure, who decided to "crash" test a Toyota Prius for its predisposition to Bluetooth viruses like Cabir.

Symantec also picked this week to update Symantec Mobile Security 4.0 for Symbian, which offers integrated firewall and antivirus protection for smartphones, including the Nokia 9300 and 9500 models. The company is offering the technology as a downloadable service priced at $44.95 for two years, although an enterprise licensing option also is available.

The vendor's announcement follows Symantec's release of some interesting data regarding mobile security threats.

Its survey of 300 smartphone users found that about 85 percent own these devices personally, so that they lie outside the management control of the companies they work for. At the same time, about two-thirds of the survey respondents admitted to storing either confidential business data or confidential client data on their smartphone. Half of them use these gadgets to log into financial accounts (such as an online banking site). And yet, close to 60 percent say their employers have no stated rules for how to handle confidential data (let alone safeguard it).

Clearly, when one of the mobile viruses that companies like F-Secure keep reporting about actually move from the proof-of-concept stage to show up "in the wild," some of these blas users (including yours truly) could be in for a rude awakening. Then again, I use a Treo, which might turn out to be the Mac of the mobile world when it comes to being the target of hackers' attentions.

While we're on the subject of security, wanted to take a moment to note that Russia's Kaspersky Lab is reaching out with its first North American channel program. The company, which operates in the United States out of Woburn, Mass., offers everything from antivirus software to firewall protection. One of its self-professed differentiators will be an hourly update service for new malware signatures and threats.

Often enough for you?

TTFN