You can put videos, games, pictures and music on your cell phone. Is antivirus software next?
Programs that fight viruses have become a necessary evil on Windows PCs. Now the antivirus industry is turning its attention to mobile phones–but it’s running into reluctance from cell service providers, who aren’t so sure that the handset is the best place to handle security.
Verizon Wireless, one of the top U.S. mobile networks, doesn’t see a need for its customers to install antivirus software on cell phones. “At this point, that is absolutely not required by individual customers,” spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said.
But makers of security software are eager to get their products onto handsets, a huge potential market. About 812 million mobile terminals–such as cell phones and smart phones–were sold in 2005, according to Gartner. That compares with an estimated 219 million PCs in the same period. The market research firm expects annual mobile device shipments to exceed one billion units for the first time in 2008.
While the number of threats to cell phones is low, security experts and analysts agree that situation is likely to change. Gartner suggests a widespread attack could surface by the end of next year. In this period of quiet before the storm, antivirus makers and mobile providers disagree on the needed defenses. Without a solution, cell phone users could lose out.