Mobility Paradise or Cyber-Apocalypse?

A couple of very interesting articles made e-headlines last week. NextGov’s article titled Cell phones, other wireless devices next big cybersecurity targets, and GovInfoSecurity’s article titled (very appropriately, if I do say so) Tsunami of Insecurity: Safeguarding Mobile Devices brought to light what I’ve been saying for several months now…mobile devices will be the next generation of cyberthreats and cyberattack targets in a magnitude never before experienced in the information or Internet ages!!!

According to Seymour Goodman, professor of international affairs and computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, “Concern over the vulnerabilities has increased as more users worldwide shift to mobile devices in favor of desktop and laptop computers. More than 3.5 billion cell phones are now in use, vastly outnumbering traditional Internet users”.

Let’s do the math (these forecasts are per IDS, Gartner, and other analysts):
– About 150,000,000 new laptops and netbooks are forecasted for sale in just 2009.
– About 1,400,000,000 new mobile devices are forecasted for sale in just 2009.
– Approximately 20% of the new mobile devices are smartphone-class devices with powerful processors, operating systems, memory, and ALWAYS CONNECTED.
– So…there are almost twice as many smartphone-class mobile devices flooding the market this year than all the laptops!
– And yet the remaining 1,120,000,000 mobile devices are still quite capable of capturing pictures, storing megabytes and gigabytes of data, and recording audio quite easily.

Alan Paller, director of research at the security SANS Institute, a cybersecurity research and education group in Bethesda, Md., said mobile devices could become a target for hackers, although computer networks remain the subject for traditional cyberattacks. “It’s true that we all carry these devices, and I see a rapidly increasing number of attacks against these devices, particularly to make them zombies to complement the PC bots,” which spam or send viruses to other computers on the Internet, he said.

With the botnet dream-state of billions of mobile devices making themselves available to new, yet-to-be-discovered forms of malware, the scenario whereby no network or data is safe is rapidly becoming a reality. The only question is:

What are we going to do about it?

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