F-Secure: Low threat from mobile malware

Viruses targeting cell phones are on the increase but pose a much lower security danger than those aimed at PCs, says CEO.

The threats from mobile malicious software are not particularly high--and are around 20 years behind those plaguing PCs now, according to a security company chief.

F-Secure Chief Executive Kimmo Alkio said the company has seen a "consistent increase" in mobile malicious software but does not expect a "dramatic increase" in the near future because the level of mobile security threats is years behind that currently seen on PCs.

Alkio said: "The threat level of mobile malware is not very high at the present time."

There are more than 300 virus variants targeting mobiles and smart phones, but around 400,000 such threats targeting PCs. Mobile security at F-Secure generates a mere 1 percent of the company's total revenue, according to Alkio.

One risk with mobile viruses is that they could cost mobile users money by charging them for services--as Alkio said: "The charging element is the dangerous part on the mobile side." But it is currently "hobbyists" targeting mobile phones with malicious software and not criminals after financial gain, as is seen within the PC world.

In June 2004, F-Secure released details of a piece of mobile-phone malicious software that used Bluetooth to try to spread to other Symbian Series 60-based mobiles. That is believed to be the first case of a self-replicating mobile-phone virus.

Gemma Simpson of Silicon.com reported from London.