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December 19, 2005

Expect More Mobile Security Woes In 2006

Courtesy of TechWeb News

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Mobile phone and PDA users should expect a rising tide of malicious software and attacks in 2006, a security company predicted Monday.

McAfee's AVERT anti-virus lab said a "significant rise in the number of global mobile threats" will appear next year as the malware risk continues to increase against cellular and smart phones, as well as PDAs.

"This is a partly a continuation of what we saw in 2005, and partly just the normal evolution in malware," said Craig Schmugar, the virus research manager at AVERT. "There will be both an increase in the number of threats and their sophistication in 2006."

Schmugar said that much of McAfee's prediction relies on the notion that mobile threats develop in the same way as did those against PCs. "While motivation has been shifting on PCs to financial profit, it wasn't long ago that attackers only wanted their 15 minutes of fame," said Schmugar. "Those motivations parallel what's going on on the mobile side. [For the most part] malware authors are now only trying to prove that they can create something."

Down the road, mobile hackers' motivation may shift to money, assuming that previous history repeats and information stored on smart phones and PDAs is salable, and/or one phone can be used to send large amounts of spam to others.

Although the growth rate of mobile threats was 10 times greater than that for PCs in 2005, Schmugar acknowledged that fewer malware authors are currently targeting mobile world. But, he warned, even a few could cause significant damage because mobile users don't have the defensive mindset of PC users, nor do many mobile devices sport security software.

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