Trojan Attacks on Mobile Phones Rising

The threat of trojans infecting mobile phones is rising sharply, according to security software firm SimWorks. The company today said it found 52 new damaging trojans on the Symbian platform in a single day.

The malicious software programs affect Series 60 phones such as the Nokia 3650, 6600 and 6630. The trojans are hiding in games for the smartphone models, SimWorks said, but have so far not been found in the wild.

“This is a significant development as until now we’ve usually found mobile trojans two or three at a time at the most,” said SimWorks CEO Aaron Davidson. “It would be easy for a malware writer to create one trojan and give it 52 different names, however this is not the case here where we have 52 separately cracked and infected applications. Somebody has gone to an awful lot of time and effort to turn these out.”

Hackers at Work

Ken Dunham, the director of malicious code research at iDefense, a Reston, Va.-based threat intelligence firm, told TechNewsWorld he is not surprised by the findings, noting that malicious code creations targeting smartphones “shot through the roof” in 2004.

“On January 1, 2005, a well known underground group released the source code for the Cabir worm, which targets blue tooth devices,” Dunham said. “Once the source code comes out, then it’s not very difficult for attackers to create minor variances or add new source code and new functionality.”

He said trojan-type components could cause the phone not to stop working or drain its battery as it attempts to spread to other bluetooth-enabled phones.

Mobile Anti-Virus Market Growing

The rise in mobile phone attacks is making room for mobile antivirus vendors with solutions designed to safeguard smartphone data. Research firm visiongain predicts the mobile antivirus market will grow from US$723 million in 2004 to $12.2 billion by 2007.

“We believe it is only a matter of time before a more serious virus targeted at smartphones strikes,” said visiongain analyst Jean Pierre Aubertin.

Dunham said for the time being, attacks are more annoying than serious, but agreed that there is a potential for more damaging strikes in the future.

“It’s possible that these phones might eventually be used for making illicit calls or stealing information off other devices,” Dunham said. “Those are all areas of concern.”

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