Claims have been made that ‘probably lots' of malicious software will move to mobile devices.
Roger Thompson, chief research officer at AVG Technologies, claimed that viruses will migrate from the desktop to mobile devices ‘with great difficulty', while malware will be more subtle than your typical virus.
Thompson said: “Viruses will not migrate from desktop to mobile because the two types of systems use fundamentally different operating systems that are simply not very compatible.
“Viruses have, and will continue, to make it onto mobile devices from time to time. Just last month, we had a couple of iPhone viruses (or, more correctly, worms), but a virus is really only a virus if it spreads, and the malicious software we're going to see infecting mobile devices will be much more subtle than your typical virus.”
Sam Curry, VP product management at RSA, claimed that Thompson's beliefs were not about fear and the frightening viruses, it was about much more insidious and subtle malware.
Curry said: “It takes time to develop exploits, but momentum has a way of building once the target is sufficiently compelling; and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So we see the first few malware examples that are harmless. Then we see a few bad ones appear randomly. Then it becomes a sustained and measurable phenomenon.
“What will happen along that road? The mobile platform will start to develop the same sort of environment that is fully compatible and parallel to the ones we know which are rife with infections.
“Second, I expect someone will point to the trend a while back that showed viruses that could cross species barriers (a computer equivalent to the species jumping H1N1), although that faded with time. Last, the number of people who know how to develop the more esoteric platforms will grow and the skill set challenge will drop: meaning a bigger pool of potential virus writers will exist.”
Thompson also claimed that the malware will log keystrokes and snoop on our user IDs and passwords, while there will be malware that transmits information about browsing habits to its masters, who will use that information to decide what ads to serve us.
Thompson said: “While it's unlikely any of us will stop using mobile devices, we do need to be thoughtful how we use them. All the apps that are being developed for smartphones cost someone some money and time, so you always ask yourself ‘how are the developers making money from this?' If you can't see a good answer, you should be sceptical about installing it.”