Unsurprisingly, Mobile Viruses Aren't A Problem
By Carlo Longino, Thu May 05 20:15:00 GMT 2005

A leading mobile data support company says less than .00004% of the calls it received in the first quarter were related to mobile viruses.


While anti-virus companies continue to fuel mobile virus hype, a leading mobile data support company says there's little evidence that they're causing any real problems. The Register reports that WDSGlobal, which handles data tech support calls for several mobile operators and device manufacturers, received less than 10 calls about mobile viruses out of the 275,000 it answered in the first three months of 2005.

A WDSGlobal employee rightly calls the noise from anti-virus companies "scaremongering" that's intended to drive device sales, with the risk proved minimal again and again (and again and again). A Symantec manager even said he wouldn't dispute WDSGlobal's assessment, but of course points out that mobile viruses aren't a "theoretical risk" any longer.

Smartphones are thus far proving more resilient than the average PC operating system to malware and viruses. And the spam-zombie worms that are currently en vogue aren't much use on mobile phones, what with the low processing power and slow network connections -- and the relatively small number of capable devices in circulation. And forthcoming versions of smartphone operating systems will ship with a number of security measures built in, including shutting off user data from rogue applications, and limiting the ability of untrusted apps to access certain handset functions.

WDSGlobal's data reveals another problem for would-be mobile virus writers: spreading by MMS or any other means of the network means users' handsets must be properly configured -- which is by no means certain, perhaps not even likely. The company says it takes more calls -- 40 percent of its total -- about proper device configuration than any other topic. And transferring infected software from a computer isn't a surefire distribution method, either: a third of WDSGlobal's calls involve pairing up a mobile with a PC.