At Last, a Little Good News on Mobile Security

Carl Weinschenk

Usually, articles and posts written about mobile security are filled with vague foreboding: Mobility is dangerous, users are in denial, and the industry has only avoided the vast problems that buffeted the wired Internet because of the multitude of operating systems and, until recently, the dearth of valuable data on mobile devices. Our luck certainly will run out soon. These pieces seem to parallel the periodic consumer press stories about the chances of an asteroid hitting earth. So it's nice to run into some good mobile security news. reports on a study from Decipher, which polled 200 users. After outlining how deeply ingrained mobility is in the daily activity of the subjects, the study said that 75 percent reported they would be more comfortable if devices used encryption and 85 percent said enterprises should deploy some sort of protection. Eighty-eight percent favor wiping devices that disappear. The good news suggested by these numbers is that a majority of people understand that mobile security is an important issue. And, of course, the first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge that it exists.


More good news is apparent in this commentary from The Yankee Group's Andrew Jaquith. He says that the firm takes a contrarian view on mobile security. The common wisdom was formed by security vendors, the most common interview subjects. Those folks, of course, have something to gain from a general feeling that mobile security is a big problem. Jaquith reiterates the fact that inherent advantage of there being no operating system monoculture. He adds that there is no clear mobile malware distribution path and that digital signatures are necessary to run third-party applications, which tends to keep problems in check.


Of course, no blog about mobile security would be complete without some bad news. AdaptiveMobile, a UK mobile security firm, last week said that said viruses are on the upswing. The release names CommWarrior and Beselo as particularly damaging, and quotes an unnamed operator as saying that virus attacks rose from 0.5 percent to 6 percent of all messages during the past year. The operator now sees 100,000 virus incidences daily, 30,000 more than a year ago.


This Going Cellular piece also takes a somber tone. The blogger says that an end user's ability to thwart mobile viruses is limited, since the nature of the technology enables them to seek out and find victims. The post says the Symbian operating system is the most vulnerable, and that attacks on popular platforms, such as the iPhone, are inevitable.


In the final analysis, perhaps it's only possible to get halfway through a mobile post without reporting on dire warnings emanating from somewhere. Mobility is fraught with dangers, and it pays to be careful. The good news is that more people than ever seem to be aware of those dangers.

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