Mobile Devices Security

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As this security solution is not such a great idea, other companies have researched, and finally found a new way to prevent cell phones and PDAs theft. This method permits to remotely disable up to four different tasks of a stolen cell phone or PDA, rendering it inoperable. But at the same time data contained in the device are locked. The beauty of this option is that the unit is not damaged in any way - full functionality and data can be easily restored if the device is recovered. Thus, the device is useless to the thief, but it can be reactivated and restored if it is recovered and returned to its rightful owner.

Another new security breach has been encountered this year when reports were received about a backdoor Trojan horse program that can take control over a mobile device. This is the first known backdoor Trojan horse for PDAs. The subject program, identified as Backdoor.Brador.A, attacks PDAs running the Windows operating system. And like all backdoors, it cannot spread by itself. The Trojan arrives as an e-mail attachment or can be downloaded from the Internet. Also, it has a complete set of destructive functions characteristic for backdoors. After it is installed, this small program is activated when the PDA is restarted and begins to look for a remote administrator to take control of the device. Security specialists claim the virus was written by a Russian virus coder since it was attached to an e-mail with a Russian sender address and contained Russian text. Fortunately, the Trojan's threat control and removal was rated as "easy".

The important thing about this virus is not the number of devices affected, because this number is very small, but the fact that this is the first one that appeared on the "market" is considered to be very important. We have to admit that it is hardly surprising that viruses have found their way to mobile devices. This is the natural trend. Where technology goes, viruses will follow. As the new technology shifts into the mobile market, these threats will move in that direction also. The specialists from the Kaspersky Labs claim they were expecting a virus attack on a PDA, due to the latest attacks against other mobile devices. Now, the PDA users look at a real danger and it is a well known fact that interested intruders will grab the chance to attack PDAs and mobile phones in the near future. Virus threats development for mobile devices is passing through the same stages as the one for desktops.

Almost at the same time with the appearance of the first Trojan for PDAs, the first virus to affect cell phones has also arrived. This worm is called "Cabir", and it has been spotted by some security specialists who issued an alert concerning the danger. Cabir spreads using a file named "Caribe.sis" and travels across devices working with the Symbian operating system which is used in PDAs and many cell phones. Cabir places itself usually on a mobile device when a user agrees to a transmission showing the text message "Caribe". After that the worm begins a nonstop search particularly for Bluetooth-connected wireless devices to send itself to. Also, the battery's life of the infected device is harshly reduced during this process. The inventors of Cabir did not design the worm to spread massively. It was intended to be a test demonstrating that these mobile devices can be easily infected by viruses because of their rapid maturation. The worm rated with a low risk because it has to be intentionally activated by a mobile phone user, and also allowing the Caribe package requires pressing a button prior the files can be loaded into the receiving phone.

It was predictable that viruses and worms for cell phones and PDAs would appear. This is the end result of the impressive advances made in mobile communication technology in the past years. Over time, cell phones and PDAs turn out to be more PC-like, making them vulnerable to viruses. And because they are more PC-like, smart cell phones and PDAs are mostly used by companies for mission-critical applications and data storage. Also they are used for receiving emails and text messages just like desktop computers. That makes their users just as exposed to viruses and worms. These security concerns can be dealt with software-encryption solutions that need to be attached to the new devices. The encryption technology expands to mobile devices the identical type of security that many companies have organized into their desktop computers. It encrypts data and prevents illegal access to the data stored within the device, which is either lost or stolen.

Mike Ber is the owner of the Canadian Domain Name Portal called He is also a contributing author to Canadian Computer Magazine and website.

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