According to a survey released this week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, only 2.1 percent of those questioned had been the victim of a mobile virus and only 11.6 percent knew someone who had been affected by one.
The survey, which was conducted by IT security specialist McAfee, polled two thousand people in North America, Europe, and Asia. Although 86.3 percent had no experience of mobile phone viruses, it was discovered that virus attacks in Japan – the “most developed mobile phone market in the world” – were far more routine than anywhere else. In fact, the report suggested that “intentional acts of mobile virus planting,” or “mobile terrorism,” could become a worldwide epidemic in the coming years.
As a result, some within the mobile marketing industry have begun speculating that mobile phone virus safeguards or other similar software may soon appear as a featured component of mobile phones released as early as next year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw this problem growing,” said Graham Cluley, a consultant at Sophos, an IT security firm, “The mobile phone is quickly growing into a sort of mobile computer.”
www.mobilephoneviruses.com, which tracks known cases of mobile phone viruses, lists examples such as Skulls, Velasco and Commwarrior, which reportedly infected more than one hundred thousand cell phones in Europe last year. Although the virus almost exclusively attacked phones running Nokia’s Symbian operating system, it spread like wildfire through text messages containing audio, video and picture files.
“Viruses aren’t a huge issue now,” said Pete Nuthall, a telecom analyst at the Forrester market research company, “but they have the potential to be so in the future when Internet use is more widespread.”