Mobile phones are criminals' target

The annual Emerging Cyber Threats Report from the Georgia Institute of Technology Information Security Center (GTISC) in the US has identified mobile devices as particularly vulnerable platform.

The risk of spam and viruses that attack mobile devices is set to rise, says the report.

Security experts suggest current risks are small, and that attacks will take the same form as PC spam and scams.

End-user protection like anti-virus software is not yet mature in the mobile market, so the issue is being addressed by the network operators.

Mobile users are urged to employ the same safe behaviours familiar on PCs to reduce risks.

'One of common types we see now runs amok on the Symbian platform,' Simeon Coney of mobile security firm Adaptive Mobile told BBC News. 'These viruses work their way through the contact book, sending themselves out to every subscriber who has been called or has called that handset.'

Coney says that network operators receive 100,000 virus incidences a day, nearly a 50% rise on last year. However, most subscribers are not infected - in part because mobile viruses are comparatively unsophisticated at present.

'The first generation of these were fairly easy for mobile operators to detect,' Coney said, 'But in the last four months, the majority of viruses we now see are of a new type that either masquerade as an MP3 file, a picture file, or a media file.'

The report recommends cooperation between operators, manufacturers and application developers and praises open-source mobile operating systems like Google's Android, which it states will make it easier for application developers to develop robust security.

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