The Old Excuses No Longer Cut It

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Nigel Stanley, a practice leader for Bloor Research, has an interesting post that touches on why the level of attacks on mobile devices hasn't reached the level of desktop PCs. This onslaught hasn't materialized despite the increasing amount of data stored on the devices, their increasing power and their apparent vulnerability.


In the past, security experts have claimed, there has tended to be more fragmentation among mobile operating systems than in the historically monocultural Windows-dominated desktop world. This, they say, has limited the attraction to hackers and crackers: Why go after a mobile OS if the lion's share of the work can't be reused against other devices?


Stanley reports that McAfee's position is that hackers are aiming for a malware "Holy Grail" that will attack various OSs -- both across the mobile spectrum and the desktop. Indeed, he says that some experts suggest that such attacks are not too far in the future. This is serious business. What it makes clear beyond this particular question (Are hackers concocting a unified field theory of malware?) is the even larger point that many of the old comfortable assumptions are dead or dying.


Look at what has changed over the past few years: It's no longer true that mobile devices are primitive and uninteresting technically. It's no longer true that valuable information isn't taken on the road. It's no longer true that desktop PCs and related devices are so insecure that hackers and crackers can easily have their way, instead of doing the more difficult job of learning about mobility. It may not be true for too much longer that significantly different worms and viruses will have to be created for each family of devices.


The reality is that all the rationales for not paying attention to mobile security never were too strong. The lack of attention to mobile security really was about personal and corporate inertia. Now, the thin fabric of reality supporting these excuses is gone or fading quickly. The fear is that the inertia will remain, while attacks proliferate.