Symantec talks up smartphone dangers

Smartphones will soon be just as vulnerable to attack as PCs are today, Symantec said as it touted its forthcoming mobile security software.

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Smartphones will soon be just as vulnerable to attack as PCs are today, Symantec said as it touted its forthcoming mobile security software.

It may have taken enterprise customers years to get proper security tools in place to defend their PCs, but if businesses drag their feet with smartphones, they will pay a heavy price, the company said.

As part of a media tour to call attention to the planned launch of Symantec Mobile Security Suite 5.0 package on 4 June, experts with the company said hackers and scammers are already creating a mobile environment that will soon rival the dangers of today's PC.

All of the attack profiles that have become standard fare for desktops and laptops, from root kit-like programs that attempt to infect operating systems, to social engineering attacks that play on the multimedia footprint of smartphones, have already arrived, said Khoi Nguyen, group product manager for mobile security at Symantec.

How quickly the attacks multiply and proliferate will be determined only by the pace with which people adopt more powerful handhelds and how aggressive they are in defending the devices, he said.

Unlike in previous years where much of the buzz around wireless security could be attributed to forward thinking, Symantec believes that handheld platforms are about to be deluged by a storm of different types of attacks.

"Since the first mobile threats started arriving several years ago things have evolved dramatically, these attacks are real and people are being impacted by them today, particularly in other regions of the world where smartphone use is higher than in the US," Nguyen said. "We are still in the early stages here, but things are evolving much more rapidly than they did on the PC side; as more enterprises adopt smartphones and they are being used more frequently to carry out financial transactions, the attackers will be there waiting."

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