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Mobile safety is up to you

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 15 Apr 2005 22:38 User comments (1)

Mobile safety is up to you The number of mobile phones infected with some sort of virus grew last month according to reports. Eight viruses in total were found in that time, including one virus, Cabir, which has bee found now in its 17th country. In the first two weeks of April, Mabir, Fontal and Hobbes viruses were discovered. However, the threat from these viruses is being played down because the infection could so easily be avoided by the user. These early viruses mostly target Symbian based phones, which comes as no surprise to company.
"The more handsets we see with a common open operating system, the more skill the virus developers have and the more damage they can do," said Tiago Alves, spokesman for mobile chip designer Arm. Some viruses can stop a phone from working completely but most don't and continue to attempt to spread to other phones using Bluetooth and MMS messaging. To most users, this means that getting an infected phone could mean you lose all your stored phone numbers and other data. "Most people do not take back-ups of the data and software they have on their phones," said Marit Doving, spokeswoman for Symbian.

Symbian has been working on ways to avoid malicious viruses for years, trying to stop mobile phones from falling to the same virus problems that PCs have fallen to. Doving believes that educating users about how the viruses act is what is really needed to combat these viruses. "What's important now is to make the normal consumer more aware of how he and she can use their telephone in a way that they do not get these problems," she said. She went on to say that actually getting infected with a virus is quite difficult.

The Cabir worm for example needs to be "approved" by phone users twice (agree to install) and the user must also manage to bypass at least one warning. Although Cabir can only spread itself using Bluetooth, it has now been found in its 17th country. Newspaper reports in Australia claim that some cab drivers in Sydney have phones that are infected with it, so you can only use your imagination to understand how that can be a problem. Doving says users need to be more careful about what they install on their phones.

"It's a little bit like someone ringing your doorbell," she said. "You wouldn't let that person across the door step without identification." Alves says however that security software on phones is not driven by viruses, but by the need for some form of DRM protection on copyrighted content on user’s phones. He said Arm had been working on a hardware-based system called Trustzone however that acts as an overseer for everything that software is doing on a phone. Trustzone only lets certain privileged programs make big changes to a phone. "It'll help protect the really sensitive user data from a virus," he said.

BBC News

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1 user comment

119.4.2005 13:55

I can see it now... Norton Mobile Antivirus

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