The incredible popularity of Apple’s iPhone may just possibly usher in the beginning of a new era for the cell phone or mobile cordless phone industry. In the past, the industry had no reason to believe that mobile cordless phones were prone to the viruses as well as other forms of “malware” that PCs were increasingly inflicted with. The Times Magazine states that this happens at a likely rate of 15,000 per day (up from five per month in 1990). So far, major cell phone or mobile cordless phone viruses have yet to make any appearance on the landscape. There is, after all, always a first time.
On the heels of this thought, a number of security experts in the field are already wringing their hands, believing that all the fuss as well as bother that Apple’s newly released gadget has created will invite—if not effectively compel—hackers to try and do their worst.
“The hype around the iPhone’s launch makes it almost certain that virus writers will attempt attacks if only to impress their cyber mates,” says Graham Cluley. Cluley is a consultant at the Web security firm Sophos at present.
So far, a considerable number of mobile cordless phones are still a long way from being smart, or more specifically, smart enough to offer ample support to viruses that operate on a truly impressive scale. Viruses of this ilk, after all, often require a broadband connection to the Internet. This, along with a sizable memory, makes it impossible for such virulent digital ills to spread to the level of an epidemic since the typical run of mobile units don’t come along with such features.
Of course, one cannot dismiss mobile cordless phones such as Blackberrys as well as Treo models. However, these consumer electronic devices are not prone to such security woes simply because considerable, if not all, of these mobile cordless phones are issued and assigned by businesses and corporations whose IT departments designate strict as well as exacting rules and regulations on users. One of these rules certainly decrees a series of firm restrictions on what employees may access, view and download as opposed to what they may not. The mobile cordless phone viruses currently making life miserable for countless users out there include a number of versions on two chief worms. These worms are the Cabir and Commwarrior. At the moment, the two viruses are confined to only a smattering of smart phones that work on the Symbian operating system. Both require acceptance from the phone user, however, since the mobile cordless phones that these viruses are after are not designed to automatically receive information into the unit. It is precisely because of this that neither virus ever came close to causing nothing more than a ripple of worry for security specialists in the industry for the past couple of years.
However, contrary to the set-up of such mobile cordless phones, the iPhone from Apple is set to function in much the same way as a computer does—more so than any other consumer electronics available along any queue of current mainstream mobile communications. The iPhone, for one, packs along a Web browser that operates in a similar fashion to that of a PC. In addition, the unit is also more than capable of supporting sophisticated applications such as iTunes. So those who don’t have any problem having a portable MP3 player fused to their cell phone or mobile cordless phone will
Current Apple CEO Steve Jobs recognizes the problems besetting the situation. “People are going to try and break in,” he stated at the iPhone’s release in London. “It is our job to try and stop them,” he added. However much one feels the conviction underlying those words, Apple has yet to say how the company intends to go about stopping threats of this sort dead on the tracks. David Perry, who is the present global director of security education for the Internet security firm Trend Micro, is not easily convinced that there is truly an easy fix to put the matter back to rights.
He projects that, sometime within the next year, the world is more than likely to finally encounter its first ever serious viral epidemic in cell phones or mobile cordless phones. Chances are, these viruses will eventually find their way onto the iPhone’s Safari browser by way of the Web. One probable quirk is that the virus would end up making the phone to call on a number—one that’s very expensive—quite repeatedly in order to generate a massive pile of bills. Considering the current practice that a great many virus writers are resorting to, such viruses will certainly prove timely. It’s no longer enough to nab those column inches. Notoriety simply leaves too much to be desired. So while it certainly offers a bit of thrill and fun for some virus writers, bagging illegally gained funds not only sounds even better, on the whole, it’s infinitely more practical.