Your smartphone: The next big security headache

2011 is the year that mobile security is going mainstream

2011 is the year that mobile security is going mainstream. Here at 2011 RSA Conference in San Francisco many of the security software companies I've spoken to have either released--or are planning to release a mobile security app of some sort.

And while smartphones aren't a major malware target in the United States yet, there are reasons to be concerned about the future of mobile security.

One of Android strengths is its openness. Just about anyone can write an app and distribute it without having to go through a sometimes lengthy review process. But as is the case on the PC, this sort of openness makes it possible for malware writers to infiltrate the smartphone. Security companies seem to think Android is the next big malware target, thanks to this openness, and the fact that it runs on so many devices.

Some of the vendors I spoke to also seemed concerned that the paranoia that users often carry when it comes to downloading and installing software on a PC might not carry over to when they use smartphones, even though the threats are there.

Mobile malware is already a problem in parts of the world. This past week, mobile security software company Lookout Mobile found a Trojan circulating via re-packaged versions of Android apps and being distributed on alternative app markets in China.

Raimund Genes, the Chief Technology Officer for Trend Micro, notes that mobile malware authors are creating their own app stores to distribute malware in China. He predicts that we in the United States see more proofs-of-concept mobile malware this year, and that it'll become a serious problem in 2012.

Smartphones carry additional information that you may not keep on your PC, like your contacts' phone numbers, photos you've taken with your smartphone, and so on. And, unlike a PC, a smartphone can be easily lost: You likely will remember to take your laptop with you if you get up and leave the Starbucks you're browsing the Web at, but it's much easier to leave behind a smartphone.

In fact, Patrick Kennedy, the Senior Director of Product Marketing with Webroot, sees this as the bigger threat toward smartphones right now. And not surprisingly, many of the smartphone security apps we've seen so far put a big emphasis on securing your personal data if your smartphone gets lost or stolen.

Smartphone malware is in its infancy, and it's hard to say what will happen next, but all indications point toward some serious problems in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, keep your guard up, stay vigilant, and think before you install that next app.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesmobile phonesLookout Mobile

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Mediati

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?