Rise of the smart phone leads to rise in mobile security fears

7 Dec 2009

Smart phones now account for 25pc of all mobile devices in the world, according to Discretix, and will grow to 40pc in five years, leading to a corresponding rise in the threats of malware, spyware and other viruses.

Discretix defines smart phones as phones with an open operating system (OS) and these already account for 25pc of today’s mobile market.

Smart phones growth rate

Given their current growth rate and the number of new devices – Dell just announced a new device on the AT&T network – smart phones will account for an increasing share of the overall market, as high as 40pc over the next five years or 400 million devices per annum.

But with this rise will come the threat of mobile viruses and other threats. For example, post-production downloadable apps can introduce malware and spyware onto the device, as seen by the spywave installed on Blackberrys in the UAE.

Some of the new operating systems, such as Android, are open source, missing the traditional safeguards and closed environment of other real-time operating systems.

OS and risk

As an open OS they are susceptible to viruses, and with a large number of smart phones in use, a virus can create significant disruptions.

Also, the devices are multi-use with massive storage capacity, moving data and applications freely between the enterprise and the home.

Discretix warns that these threats taken together require a more robust approach to security.

Smart-phone security, it warns, is complicated by a number of different requirements, all of which must be met: the protection of the device and its contents, enabling applications and services and being completely transparent to the end user.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years