In our last issue we reported that the rapid growth of smart phones, with mobile applications that connect to the web, has set the stage for mobile viruses to disrupt things in this sphere. Now we hear of two new reports that are indicative of an impending crisis in this arena. The first is a finding by US-based Cloudmark Inc., which states that “nearly two thirds of mobile device owners are concerned about the security of their devices.” This report is based on a survey of 1,812 U.S. adults. The survey also found that such concerns are restraining users from opting for new mobile services for financial transactions and shopping. This is interesting from the point of view of the revenue loss to the industry at large as a result of on-the-go users not feeling secure enough to transact from their mobile phones.
The other report is of Trend Micro announcing that it has spotted the first mobile botnet. Botnets have till now only been seen in the PC world. According to TrendMicro’s Research Lab, the Symbian-based malware, labeled SYMBOS_YXES.B, could be downloaded from malicious mobile sites by unsuspecting users. “A Symbian Information Source file collects phone and subscriber ID and network information on affected devices, and connects to a web site in order to send the information on. In addition, it can also send spammed SMS to the user’s contacts acquired from the web site it connected to earlier”, states Trend Micro Labs. In short, it appears to be a botnet for mobile phones. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the open source mobile OS Android, in terms of malicious attacks like these.