Smart & Safe

Smartphones are a favorite new hacker target, and there's plenty you can do to lock 'em down

It was so nice while it lasted.

When the flood of trojans, worms, and viruses assaulting your desktop workstation finally gave you a massive case of the cyber heebie-jeebies, you could retreat to the small, safe confines of your smartphone. True, it was tough to browse all your favorite Web pages or edit that report for the board, but at least you didn't have to worry about malware. Yes, those were the days.

Today, smartphones are one of the most talked-about targets of malware authors. Granted, the malware we've seen so far has tended to be proof of concept stuff, but the concept has been proven and the aura of safety has been shattered. It's sad that we now have to be grateful that the anti-malware folks are paying attention and are launching products to protect the smartphones, but they have, and we are.

BitDefender just joined the fight with its Mobile Defender product released today. This follows the introduction of Kaspersky's Open Space Security announced at the recent RSA conference. (See Kaspersky Intros New Products at RSA.) You'll also find mobile device protection products from companies like McAfee, F-Secure, Symantec, and Trend Micro on the market, and more are certain to follow.

It's too much to hope that the availability of the anti-malware products ahead of any massive release of real malware will keep the smart phone space relatively safe, but at least we're not starting out too far behind the curve.

While you're thinking about all the product, too, you might give a thought to smart phone security best practices. You'll be happier having them in place before they're needed, than not.

Crooks have followed masses of people in every significant gold rush or migration in recorded history. With millions of people moving to smartphones, well, you know what's bound to happen. That peaceful, easy feeling, though — it sure was nice for a while.

— Curt Franklin is an enthusiastic security geek who used to be one of the Power Rangers (the red one, we think). His checkered past includes stints as a security consultant, an IT staffer at the University of Florida, security editor at Network Computing, chief podcaster for CMP Technology, and various editorial positions at places like InternetWeek, Byte, and Hog Monthly. Special to Dark Reading.

  • BitDefender
  • F-Secure Corp.
  • Kaspersky Lab
  • McAfee Inc. (NYSE: MFE)
  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)
  • Trend Micro Inc.