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EU warns over smartphone malware


blackberryIf you think that viruses are for desktops, think again. The EU’s IT security watchdog’s new research warned that users could be in danger of malware infecting their beloved devices.

The new report highlighted risks that could come from the greater use of smartphones, such as the iPhone, BlackBerry or Android phones, in government or businesses.

“Smartphones are a goldmine of sensitive and personal information – it’s vital to understand how to maintain our control over this data. We’ve designed our recommendations to plug into a typical security policy,” said Dr. Giles Hogben, co-author of the report.

The report also highlighted less obvious risks, such as leakage of information through GPS data attached to pictures.

“Many users are unaware or do not recall that the [location] data is being transmitted, let alone know of the existence of the privacy setting to prevent this. Unintentional disclosure may help attackers to track and trace users and so allow stalking, robbery or hijacking,” the report said.

Mobile network infrastructure could also be placed under risk as it could be overloaded by malicious third party software.

But the authors said that third party software risks were slim as “most smartphone users only install third party software through controlled software distribution channels”.

Professor Dr. Udo Helmbrecht, Executive Director of ENISA, said, “Given the growing importance of smartphones for EU businesses, governments and citizens, we consider it essential to assess their security and privacy implications.”

The full report is here.