The canary in the coal mine …

There has been an on-going concern regarding malware being targeted at smart phones and tablets.  I’ve touched on this in several posts, and in February I discussed it in the context of Location Services.

The issue is that the smart gadget market is a huge opportunity for malware writers and distributors, yet the only defense to-date has been the vetting of apps in app stores and hopefully good software engineering practices by the device makers.  The target is huge for a couple critical reasons:  First, the number of devices is mind boggling with 500 million smartphones shipped in 2011 alone.  It’s a much bigger target than the Windows PC market.  Second, is in the manner we are using the devices.  Not only do they have sensitive data on them, but we are using them increasingly for financial transactions, cloud connections and a variety of applications that have real-time knowledge of where we currently are and where we have been.

For a more thorough description of how we are using smart devices, see the latest copy of Time Magazine, it’s Wireless Issue.  It goes into detail about how smart devices are significantly changing our society and culture.  They also touch on security and privacy concerns.

What really got my attention was an article in Fast Company..  It seems that around 500, 000 Android systems in China were infected with malware (called SMSZombie)  that systematically drained small amounts money from the device owner though China Mobile’s SMS payment app.   Though this particular threat isn’t a concern for US users, there are estimates that up to 13 million devices are infected with malware.     BTW: Malware seems to be a bigger issue with Android devices than it is with Apple or Microsoft at this time.  See this article also by Fast Company.

I see this as a canary in the coal mine issue that’s continuing to unfold …

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    1. The war on malware « The Family HelpDesk
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