Viruses or worms are not only threats to personal computers, but increasingly to mobile phones too. Only last week was there the buzz about the Trojan that targeted Android phones.
Increasingly, newer kinds of spying tools have started invading the mobile domain, which monitor calls, SMS and other activities on the mobile phone. What is scary is that the phone's owner does not know that someone knows exactly whom he calls and what he browses through GPRS. With smart phones and mobile applications gaining increasing acceptance, industry analysts predict that mobile phones are the next target for cyber criminals.
With the rollout of 3G services, Internet access is going to be far easier and more efficient on even the mobile phone. 3G operators will offer a wide range of new mobile services such as real-time high quality audio/video transmission. This is going to change the way of communication and the use of mobile handsets. More consumers will opt for smart phones. It is expected that these opportunities will open new avenues for virus writers and hackers to attack the newer devices.
Sanjay Katkar, Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Pune-based Quick Heal, says that today most mobile phones offer push mail services. Consequently, these smart mobiles are prone to malware attacks. While multinational companies offer anti-virus protection for high-end phones and PDAs, the bulk of users (mid- and low-end phones) go without any anti-virus protection. Certain Operating Systems have free or premium virus scan applications that can be downloaded, but awareness is low.
He points out that virus can infect a mobile phone in a number of ways — Internet downloads, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) attachments, websites, emails and Bluetooth transfers, just to identify a few. Infection can appear disguised — like a game download, a ringtone, even some kind of alert. One of the recent mobile worms sent through SMS read: “A very sexy girl! Try it now!” which followed a link to an infected website that hosted a virus dropper.
There is also cross OS possibilities of virus damage. “For example, a virus designed for Symbian operating system, widely used in mobile phones, can creep into a non-Symbian OS phone. Though the virus will not be active on these non-Symbian phones, they still occupy lots of space on phone memory or memory card causing loss of space,” Mr. Katkar explains.
Quick Heal has recently launched, PC2Mobile Scan, a mobile phone virus scan. Using ‘PC2Moblie Scan Technology,' one can easily find out whether the mobile phone has been invaded. All you have to do is to connect the mobile phone to the PC or laptop through USB cable and scan the phone from Quick Heal Total Security 2010 installed on the PC. The mobile phones can be scanned over Bluetooth too.
The company has filed a patent for the PC2Mobile Scan Technology, which works across mobile OS platforms and phone brands. The application is in an advanced stage of patent-pending status, Mr. Katkar says.