The Virus Is the Thing

Carl Weinschenk

An entertaining piece on All About Symbian can be summed up succinctly: The author feels that the fuss about mobile viruses is all sound and fury, signifying nothing.


OK, we're the ones pretentious enough to quote Macbeth in a blog about mobile security, but it seems appropriate since the blogger appears to be posting from the UK.


In any case, the quote about sums up the writer's feeling: He scoffs at Symbian and, on the security software vendor side, thinks that F-Secure is the worst of the hype offenders.


We're of two minds on this. The blogger is correct that actual cases of mobile viruses and malware such as Lasco, Cabir and RedBrowser are, in the big scheme of things, few and far between. He is also correct in his statement that they require an exceptional amount of silliness on the part of users, who must execute a file in order to let loose the dogs of war (OK, we'll stop).


We don't take quite as cynical an attitude toward the vendor and carrier community as the blogger does, however. He seems to feel that they are hyping the threat in order to sell more software. Clearly, that's a possibility and, to some extent, it's true. Vendors certainly don't mind selling software in response to a threat.


We think, however, that the emphasis on mobile viruses and device protection is due to fear. Fear that crackers are finally coming to the conclusion that plaguing cell phones and other mobile devices is worth their time. Fear that the transition of cracking from individuals who do it for sport to organized crime syndicates will impact the cellular sector.


Indeed, a little paranoia and over-reaction on the side of over-protecting mobile devices is a good thing. It will result in better security software. Moreover, the fact that it's in the news may put that fear to good use by frightening end users into being more careful.

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