Risk

7/21/2008
09:30 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Has The Time Arrived For iPhone Antivirus Software?

Apple antivirus and privacy software maker Intego thinks so. The security vendor last week announced its software is the first AV to scan the iPhone and iPod Touch for malware. I wouldn't rush out to install it, just yet.

Apple antivirus and privacy software maker Intego thinks so. The security vendor last week announced its software is the first AV to scan the iPhone and iPod Touch for malware. I wouldn't rush out to install it, just yet.There's no doubt, in my mind, that someday malware on mobile devices will become a problem. Actually, I had thought it would have become a problem earlier this decade, and then again a few years into this decade. But viruses and malware aimed at handheld devices and smartphones just haven't come to fruition. And why should they? Hacking applications and operating systems have grown from being a hobbyist-sport to big business, and there's still little sense (aside from proof-of-concept code and bragging rights) in infecting gadgets when there are so many Web servers and networked PCs available for the taking. (The weakness in this logic is that someone develops some type of virus for the iPhone to cause mass disruption -- just so they have the bragging rights as the one who made history.)

But it's my hunch, and that's as good as anyone can get when it comes to predicting future trends in malware, that such a virus attack would not come via the iPhone/iPod Touch App Store. Rather, it'd come through the mail client or Safari. Which brings us to the utility in Intego's announcement that it's VirusBarrier X5 will eradicate malware from the iPhone and iPod Touch.

From the press release:

Not only Macs are at risk from malware; now that users can install applications on the iPhone and iPod Touch, these devices are open to attack as well.

It's possible -- I mean, viruses have been shipped with retail software packages, MP3 players, and most recently a handful of digital picture frames -- but it's not a risk I'd get all choked up about. Also, because VirusBarrier scans the iPhone and iPod Touch when docked (there is no AV agent placed on the devices) users are still at risk through the most likely attack vectors: Web and mail.

Intego makes good software, and I run its firewall on my Mac Pro and MacBook Pro, but I wouldn't buy VirusBarrier X5 because it scans iPhones and the iPod Touch. The good news for current VirusBarrier X5 users is that the update is free.

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