Mobile phones are becoming ever more like personal computers. That means they are also becoming more vulnerable to traditional computer menaces like hackers and viruses. This year, the Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Lab reported on a new malicious program that stole money by taking over Nokia phones and making small charges to the owners’ wireless accounts.
Last month, an Australian student created an experimental worm that hopscotched across “jailbroken” iPhones, which are phones altered to run software Apple has not authorized. To security experts, it suggested that pernicious attacks on iPhones are possible.
Where there are perceived security threats, there are always entrepreneurs and investors looking to capitalize on them – and build profitable businesses. This month Khosla Ventures, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm, led an investment group that injected $5.5 million into a fledgling security start-up called Lookout.
Lookout wants to be the security giant of the mobile world, similar to the role Symantec plays in the PC market.
Lookout began testing security software for phones running the Windows Mobile and Android operating systems, and it will soon introduce security applications for the BlackBerry and iPhone. The software protects phones against rogue programs and gives owners the ability to remotely back up and erase the data on their mobiles. It also lets them track the location of their handset on the web.
“It feels a lot like it did in 1999 in desktop security,” said John Hering, Lookout’s 26-year-old chief executive, who for years has done research demonstrating security vulnerabilities in phones. “People are using the mobile web and downloading applications more than ever before, and there are threats that come with that.”
Hering and his co-founder, Kevin Mahaffey, have been publicly demonstrating the weaknesses of mobiles for some time. In 2005, they camped outside the Academy Awards ceremony and scanned the phones of stars walking the red carpet, using a short-range Bluetooth wireless connection. They found that as many as 100 of the phones were vulnerable to hacking over such a connection.
Via Times of India