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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mobile virus growth outpaces PC malware

The number of mobile viruses is climbing faster than PC viruses, according to research from security software vendor McAfee.  Data on virus numbers since 2004 was compared to the number of PC viruses since 1990 and the results show that mobile malware numbers are rising faster than for PCs. So far over 200 mobile viruses have been detected in the wild.  “We do not want to over hype the threat, as this is not an epidemic,” said Drew Carter, senior product manager at McAfee’s Mobile Initiatives division.  “Nevertheless it is a steeper growth curve than for PCs. If things continue at this pace we will reach a similar state of affairs as exists in the PC market before very long.”

Carter also highlighted the similar evolution of mobile viruses, with a few skilled virus writers and a larger group of script kiddies who adapt the work of others.

McAfee has set up mobile virus research groups in its worldwide monitoring stations to track the problem and has released a mobile antivirus scanner.  The scanner itself is fairly basic, as it relies totally on signature files and is reactive, but the company is hoping to add heuristics that block malware by its behaviour in future versions.

Several other security software companies have also released packages for mobile phones and corporate telephony departments. Ericsson has just signed up to sell Trend Micro’s mobile security software.

“As the capabilities of smartphones increase, it is ever more important for enterprises to protect themselves from the growing security threat these devices can pose,” said Katarina Löweberg, director of mobile applications at Ericsson Enterprise.  “For the first time, mobile operators now have a way to offer their enterprise customers centrally managed protection for smartphones against malicious mobile code such as SMS spam and viruses.”

Posted on 02/16