Yes — we have officially entered the age of the Textually Transmitted Disease. Last September a virus spread across China, infecting more than 1 million smartphones. This virus dubbed ‘Zombie‘ infiltrated phones and began sending spam messages using the phone’s address book. While this is still shy of being a full-blown TTD, we are well on our way.
Internet security companies expect these viruses to spike as smartphone sales and use increases. Top security firm McAfee has reported that mobile phone malware increased by 46% from 2009 to 2010. Other Internet security companies have noticed the spike as well and attribute much of it to the vulnerabilities in the apps and widgets. ViaForensics noted that even the more famous apps have security flaws including Groupon, Facebook and Mint.com. In fact a large number of the 11 billion+ apps downloaded last year put users information at risk, as do 10 out of the 12 email apps tested.
The importance of smartphone security is surpassing home computers, as now more than ever people are logging into online banking, social networking accounts, email accounts, and other data-sensitive functions via their mobile devices.
Currently all the major Internet security providers are scrambling to provide a solution as research groups like Forrester indicate that as many as 75% of corporations are concerned about mobile security within the enterprise, and these concerns are quickly spreading within the consumer sector.
Consumers looking to get ahead of the malware curve are installing anti-virus software on their mobile devices. Currently there are only a few solutions available, although more will come to market shortly:
- Lookout Mobile Security provides decent free anti-virus software for Android and Blackberry phones (and has a premium offering with enhanced functionality).
- Norton has ‘Norton Mobile Security‘ in beta testing for Android phones.
- AVG has an antivirus for Android phones that comes in a free offering and premium paid subscriptions.
- McAfee’s covers the most operating systems with its WaveSecure product, which covers Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows Mobile.
- Sophos is ahead of the pack with their Sophos Mobile Control, which works for iPhones, iPads, Android, and Windows Mobile devices.
The battle of the Textually Transmitted Diseases will be coming to our doorstep soon, and in a big way. And while security companies fight to release the first and best solutions, consumers and corporations wait in the wings, crossing their fingers that their information stays safe.