Mobile messaging attacks to rise in 2010

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Cloudmark points to increasing app threat.

Mobile messaging spam has predicted to increase this year as claims have been made that malicious applications could end up on application stores.

Following a recent report about fraudulent applications being found by Google on its Android Marketplace, Chandra Tekwani, vice president of mobile operations at Cloudmark, claimed that any application store could be hit in this way.

Tekwani said: “It is not possible to check every application and anything malicious has to spread and will spread with messaging, with a secure message you will prevent that from spreading.”

Apple commented by saying that there is currently over 100,000 apps on the App Store and over three billion apps have been downloaded since launch to over 50 million iPhone and iPod touch customers.

In a previous statement, Apple said: “We created an approval process that reviews every application submitted to Apple for the App Store in order to protect consumer privacy, safeguard children from inappropriate content, and avoid applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone.

“Some types of content such as pornography are rejected outright from the App Store, while others such as graphic combat scenes in action games may be approved but with an appropriate age rating.

“Most rejections are based on bugs found in the applications. When there is an issue, we try to provide the developer with helpful feedback so they can modify the application in order for us to approve it. Ninety-five per cent of applications are approved within 14 days of their submission.”

Tekwani also claimed that there would be three key trends for mobile security in 2010, particularly in SMS and MMS technology. He said that this would include the capability of unlimited mobile messaging by operators that would allow spammers to be "much more profitable".

He said: “The operator network is opening up with the internet and application portals. It is open on two sides so threats are coming in from two ends. Mobile messaging security will become more important, also with phishing and copying into the web face from MMS and SMS.”

The other trends will be in fraud, as the messaging threat is likely to be the highest level of threat and with a signalling threat, as the focus on mobile malware will become a main factor.

“It is better to protect at the messaging level and we will focus on messaging by propagation method,” said Tekwani.

Jay Seaton, chief marketing officer at Airwide Solutions, referred to a survey by Harris Interactive which showed that 65 per cent of mobile users are concerned about safety, with 44 per cent of users having reportedly been victims of mobile spam.

He said: “The increased opening of networks and handsets release myriad new threats, which will not only lead to increased customer care, increased infrastructure costs, increased churn and brand damage, but will also hinder the uptake of services like mobile financial services and mobile advertising.

“For example, according to Harris, more than 70 per cent of users would be prevented from using mobile financial services. Already in recent weeks we have witnessed the emergence of the first iPhone worm proving that no technology or service is immune from cyber criminals. The industry must work together to tackle security threats in order to enable the continued evolution of enriched features and services.”

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