Talking tech since 2003

Viruses and malware have always been big issues for computer users as a whole.  These malicious applications aim at making our computer experiences less productive and flat-out annoying, and it seems as if we have all dealt with these intrusions at one point or another.  As it stands now, even though anti-malware products have become a multi-billion dollar a year industry we are still seeing a “cat and mouse” game between computer users and malware authors.

Mac OS X and Linux operating systems have been historically known for being less prone to viruses.  While many believe that these operating systems are simply built and designed more securely, we also have to acknowledge that there isn’t as large of an effort for malware authors to attack OS X and Linux simply because they have bigger fish to fry; the Microsoft Windows operating system, which is estimated to make up nearly 90% of the OS marketshare.  With the technology and computing fields changing on more-or-less a daily basis, it’s natural for us as technology enthusiasts and consumers to question what the next big target will be for the authors and distributors of malware applications.  According to McAfee, mobile malware is rising at an alarming rate; making it evident that this relatively remote concept is going to become a very hot topic as the mobile industry progresses.

Think about it.  Mobile phones are everywhere and just about everyone owns one.  In the eyes of a potential hacker or malware developer, mobile phones are a very promising target simply because of the number of devices out there and the fact that many users store their most sensitive and personal information on them.  Moreover, the fact that the mobile industry and technology is changing so rapidly means that security hasn’t been a huge concern on the part of end-users.  Sure, we’ve seen some dialog regarding mobile security in the past, but we have seen next to no action to better protect mobile phones from malware threats.

While McAfee makes a relatively bold statement by saying that malware is a big threat for the mobile market, they also point out that many of the more highly prone mobile operating systems are a bit “dated” – to say the least.  Take a look at the pie-chart below to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Looking at the chart, we immediately see that Android OS makes up for a very small number of security threats in 2009 and 2010.  What we don’t see is any threats for Apple’s iOS (formerly known as the iPhone OS).  So what does this mean?  Simply put, modern mobile operating systems don’t seem to be huge risks.

With this in mind, I worry that this type of news could damage consumer faith in mobile phones and could cause a great deal of damage to an otherwise growing industry.  Don’t get me wrong – I still believe that users need to be concerned with mobile security, but the fact still remains that the “threats” aren’t as large as they may first appear.

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