Mobile malware staying put and growing rapidly

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Mobile malware staying put and growing rapidly

Mobile phone viruses are on the rise spreading data seeking spyware, money making Trojans and shutting down phones.

Traces of SMS travelling Trojans, spyware and viruses have signaled a rise in mobile phone malware which is presently growing rapidly in both numbers and sophistication, warns security vendor F-Secure.

Speaking at a Sydney press conference, Patrik Runald senior security specialist at F-Secure Security Labs said there are right now 364 mobile viruses targeting mobile devices and the curve is growing fast.

The first one was found back in June 2004 and there are already 360, plus we already have detected the first spyware for mobile phones. “It took over 15 years to format the first spyware for PCs, it took just one and half years before we got it for mobiles,” said Runald.

So far, majority of threats have been ‘harmless’ and not nearly as bad as they are on PCs explained Runald but everything is happening so much faster today.

“In a few years time these are going to be as technically advanced as the ones we have on PCs and we will have much more mobile phones as we will have PCs.

“The risk of infection is much bigger on PCs compared to mobiles today but if we don’t start thinking about this now we are going to be in the same situation,” said Runald.

Current mobile phone spyware is uploading data to websites, exposing all voice calls and sms messages sent and received, he said.

Furthermore, there are viruses that load icons on screens that shut down the device and some even have pop up messages like ‘dear user am I allowed to spread’.

“Most are written by teenagers so we don’t have the criminal element there. But again that’s going to change. We’ve already seen the premium SMS sending Trojan sending a SMS every five minutes costing the user US$7 each.”

According to Jari Heinonen vice president of APAC at F-Secure there is a clear merging between the fixed world and the mobile world which means Telco’s and ISP’s need to work together.

“There is no difference whether you have your nice phones reading emails or sitting at the office and reading email.”

“We don’t want 350 000 pieces of malware on mobile phones, we don’t want a single one more than we have today, but if we can’t influence the operating system makers, mobile phone device makers, the operators and the users to actually think about this seriously we’re going to be in big trouble again,” said Runald.
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