F-Secure provides Anti-Virus for Windows Mobile devices. But, why?

by Todd Ogasawara

F-Secure announced its F-Secure Mobile Anti-Virus
for mobile devices (PDAs and Smartphones) running Microsoft Windows Mobile. But what, exactly, is it guarding against?
If I'm reading the press release correctly, it does not scan for a carried virus (a virus that attacks, for example, Microsoft Windows XP but does not affect Windows Mobile).
And, I am hard pressed to think of a virus/worm affecting Microsoft Windows Mobile that is in the wild (not a lab demonstration).


Even the malware affecting Symbian-based smartphones are not very virulent.
For example, security.itworld.com
interviewed Peter Firstbrook (Program Director at Meta Group)
earlier this year.
Here's one quote from Mr. Firstbrook:
Most viruses require gullible users to execute them. For example, the Cabir worm requires Bluetooth users to initiate an action not just once but twice or more. So the obvious advice is to not accept or execute code from an unknown source (similar advice our moms gave us years ago to not accept candy from strangers).


If someone from F-Secure would care to to enlighten me and other users of mobile devices based on Microsoft Windows Mobile, please do!


BTW, the press release dated Oct. 10, 2005, states support for Windows Mobile 2003 and 2003 Second Edition.
However, it does not say anything about supporting the current generation Windows Mobile 5 devices.


As a side-note, F-Secure has a website formatted for display on mobile devices at:


http://mobile.f-secure.com/


Know of any virus/worm/malware in the wild that targets Microsoft Windows Mobile devices?


1 Comments

Witteveen
2005-10-17 10:23:11
F-Secure Response
With the standardization of mobile phone operating systems, the number of potential devices that can be infected increases with the same virus or worm.


Today we are lucky, only a few known malware versions exist and are in the wild. Those that are in the wild, predominantly attack the Symbian platform and require the user to accept the installation multiple times, before the virus can infect the phone and have the ability to spread. Despite the built in security features of these phones, we have seen infections in many countries around the world. The actual threat of getting infected today, however, is quite low in comparison to getting infected in the PC world. Symbian has most likely been under attack as it represents a very large community in Europe already today.


The larger issue is "What will the world look like tomorrow?" Learning from History; we know that these devices, as they are computers, will be a target for attacks, especially when these devices are numbered in the 10's or 100's of millions. The commercial potential they will represent will be far greater then today’s PC population. Unlike the PC population, mobile phones have multiple communication capabilities and knowledge of how to repair/restore these devices is very limited. Mobile phones are a standard system for communication, which makes them part of the worlds critical infrastructure; i.e., emergency calls (911).


The learning curve to protect these new devices started a few years ago. The challenge is to leverage our knowledge in the PC world and to establish a defense infrastructure against these future threats. F-Secure believes it is better to establish a defense infrastructure to deter the spreading of virus’s and worms, rather then scrambling for a solution after the first major ones.