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Mobile malware ‘not yet significant’

Mobile devices do not have enough access to target data, says Gartner analyst.

Mobile malware ‘not yet significant’
Firstbrook: Mobile malware has been confined to Android and is mostly nuisance attacks

Mobile malware is not yet a significant factor when it comes to the overall security landscape, and is mostly made up of "nuisance attacks", according to Gartner vice president Peter Firstbrook.

Because mobile malware is mostly confined to the Android operating system, and because of the way that the malware is delivered, mobile malware is not yet affecting the security landscape in the way that some have claimed, Firstbrook explained to ITP.net via email.

"Mobile malware has been confined to Android and is mostly nuisance attacks - i.e. spyware, adware, SMS dialers - with a few very rare exceptions - i.e. NSA attacking the GSM layer on iOS," he said.

"There has not been a mass propagation method for mobile malware, and users have to choose and download Trojan software. App separation has made it difficult to gain broad access to device memory."

Added to this is the fact that most mobile devices simply do not have the access to target data that attackers are looking for, Firstbrook said. This is why most attackers will still concentrate their efforts on traditional PCs, which have access to much more valuable information.

However, Firstbrook was keen to point out that mobile malware will continue to proliferate, and that the concept should not be written off.

"We anticipate more attacks as mobile devices become more critical in business applications and mobile payments," he said.

Indeed, in some areas of the world, mobile malware is the preferred method of attack among cyber-criminal communities. In Russia, for example, considerably more attacks are pursued through mobile platforms than on PCs, according to Sophos' latest mobile security report.  

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