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Pinning Down the Spread of Cell Phone Viruses

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the promiscuous-mode dept.

Security 53

walrabbit writes "Wang et al (2009) (from Albert-László Barabási's lab) modeled the spread of mobile phone viruses based on anonymised call and text logs of 6.2 million customers spread over 10,000 towers. Their simulations shows that the spread is dependent on the market share of a particular handset, human mobility and mode of spread: bluetooth or MMS or hybrid. 'We find that while Bluetooth viruses can reach all susceptible handsets with time, they spread slowly due to human mobility, offering ample opportunities to deploy antiviral software. In contrast, viruses utilizing multimedia messaging services could infect all users in hours, but currently a phase transition on the underlying call graph limits them to only a small fraction of the susceptible users. These results explain the lack of a major mobile virus breakout so far and predict that once a mobile operating system's market share reaches the phase transition point, viruses will pose a serious threat to mobile communications.' You can read the full text (PDF) and supporting online information (PDF) (with interesting modelling data and diagrams)." (Also summed up in a short article at CBC.)

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This is why... (4, Funny)

corychristison (951993) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467083)

... I use the old fashioned method of communication [textually.org] .

Re:This is why... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467107)

Do you use sterilized caps? You know, you might catch an ear infection from dirty caps!

Wear protection! (2, Informative)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467141)

Here! Wear this! [networkworld.com]

And don't share your phone promiscuously!

Abstinence is the way - don't use cell phones!

Re:Wear protection! (3, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467155)

Maybe if they made a cell phone that was just a, you know, phone, and didn't have any extra crap in it, it wouldn't even be possible to spread any code, malicious or not.

Re:Wear protection! (2, Informative)

A12m0v (1315511) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467221)

or have a kill switch, disable background processes and practice full control of the software distribution

Re:Wear protection! (1)

edivad (1186799) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467615)

or have a kill switch, disable background processes and practice full control of the software distribution

That is, as far as Freedom to use goes, the same thing curfew.

Re:Wear protection! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27470453)

Exactly, same with computers. Why have computers, the spread of malicious code would be prevented if we went back to a typewriter.

Re:Wear protection! (1)

memorycardfull (1187485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467297)

It doesn't feel the same and it ruins the mood of the conversation.

One valid reason for the app store... (5, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467195)

I was having this debate with someone the other night who believes that in 3 - 5 years every phone will be android. Personally I was arguing that Blackberry in the business world is pretty hard to beat and the iPhone has a sizable lead. But people tend to trade in their personal phones every couple years. Businesses usually get married to a platform and it's harder to move them away. Especially if they have invested in any applications.

I know Apple gets flamed a lot around here by people for not being open enough and forcing developers to release apps through the app store, but I've seen it as an attempt to delay and try to prevent malware on the iPhone. Personally that's one reason why I am uncool in the geek world and don't jailbreak mine. I know I've bitched about the bluetooth stack being locked down on the iPhone. I'd love to connect a freaking wireless keyboard to it sometimes. But at the same time, I see Apple's position on controlling the gateway beyond them "being evil locking people in".

You have the people harping on how cool Android will be because one won't "be locked into one app store" etc.. But in the back of my mind that just increases the risk of someone downloading some "Cool free app" that happens to be a malware app. It only has to happen a few times before the reputation gets out there. And it will happen because people see pops ups now that say, "Hey you have mal ware, down load our malware cleaner." And then they click and install nothing but malware.

And I think it is much more likely given how I've seen people use their phones on such a spur of a moment basis. The number of times I've seen people just be browsing and buy/download a ringtone or app on the spur of the moment. Especially if they are at a club and have already had a few to drink and aren't thinking. (I have to take away certain people's iphones when we go out to keep them from doing anything stupid).

Either way, I dread the day that we have to run anti-virus on our phones.

It also makes me think there are still reasons to keep the trusty old land line around.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467321)

every phone will be android

Ask them what drugs they're on. If they deny it, suggest they need meds. And have their flux capacitor reworked. And that they need to find a bucket of steam.

People want phones first and foremost to make phone calls. A smart phone, for many of us, is a dumb decision - it's too bulky, while at the same time it doesn't have enough screen to replace even a netbook ... and for people who tend to lose their phones on an annual basis, it gets expensive fast. Phones, for most people, are semi-disposable commodities. If someone loses it, or it gets stolen, or they drop it one time too many, it's not THAT big a deal. And for the majority, that's the way it should stay, because, like hard drive failures, it's not a question of if, but when - when you lose it, drop it, it dies, or it gets swiped.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (2, Insightful)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468007)

In my experience people want phones first and foremost to send text messages, and to take and send photos.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (2, Insightful)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468907)

People want phones first and foremost to make phone calls. A smart phone, for many of us, is a dumb decision - it's too bulky, while at the same time it doesn't have enough screen to replace even a netbook ... and for people who tend to lose their phones on an annual basis, it gets expensive fast. Phones, for most people, are semi-disposable commodities. If someone loses it, or it gets stolen, or they drop it one time too many, it's not THAT big a deal. And for the majority, that's the way it should stay, because, like hard drive failures, it's not a question of if, but when - when you lose it, drop it, it dies, or it gets swiped.

Today, people want phones first and foremost to make phonecalls. Tomorrow, they may want them first and foremost for email and video chat, with audio being a function not often used.

Most people don't want to lug a laptop around just to check email/the web, they're happy to do their surfing on a tiny device they can carry around with them anyway (a smartphone). Most people will never have a 'netbook' or even know what one is, but they do know that you can now get phones which will display your email too and have access to the internet.

As to the argument about fragility etc, I imagine similar arguments about those newfangled portable computers called laptops back in the day.

Now perhaps you disagree with this future, but it is not improbable, and your blithe dismissal of smart-phones doesn't mean they will suddenly stop being the fastest-growing segment of phone handsets.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27469125)

RE Video Chat: We've had phones with video calling for a couple of years now - it's a dud despite their initial heavy promotion by Rogers (which I could have told them). Nobody wants to show other people that they're in the toilet, or in bed, or that they haven't got their makeup on, or that they're with friends when they said they'd be working late, or that they're naked in front of their PC surfing pr0n, or any one of a number of things ...

RE: email: Get caught checking your email while driving, even in places that allow hands-free phone calls, and you'll have a nice ticket, demerit points, higher car registration and insurance fees.

RE: "lug a laptop around": Since you're not doing it while driving, you're probably somewhere with a computer nearby. Or if it's REALLY important, they can, you know - PHONE YOU! :-) Email isn't used for top-priority communications. Are you going to email the fire department or the cops when there's an emergency? No, you call 911.

A lot of people have recently bought smartphones because of the push by cell phone companies to lock people into a voice+data plan. However, many people are finding the smartphone to be a dumb idea. They're bulky, the screens crack just from sitting in your pocket, and for the most part, they're just cheap not-as-good-as-a-crackberry for people who don't want to pay for a blackberry.

As for the iPhone, it's just too damn bulky to be interesting. We spent a couple of decades making these things smaller so they'd be more convenient. The iPhone is like a brick next to today's regular cell phones - bulky and inconvenient.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 5 years ago | (#27486143)

RE Video Chat...Nobody wants to show other people that they're in the toilet

I don't generally call people from the toilet, so it's not an issue. Perhaps it would be for you. In my opinion video chat has not caught on because it is expensive and charged at extortionate rates. I expect that to change. Look at desktop computers and you'll see video chat being used all over the world.

RE: email: Get caught checking your email while driving,

And? What does the obvious danger of emailing/phoning while driaving have to do with smartphones and the use of email on them? Texting while riding a bike is also inadvisable, but it doesn't seem to have put people off texting.

Since you're not doing it while driving, you're probably somewhere with a computer nearby.

However, many people are finding the smartphone to be a dumb idea. They're bulky, the screens crack just from sitting in your pocket, and for the most part, they're just cheap not-as-good-as-a-crackberry for people who don't want to pay for a blackberry.

As for the iPhone, it's just too damn bulky to be interesting

You're assuming that your experience and feelings are universal. Given the growth in smartphone sales, I disagree (based on the figures, not on a personal love for smartphones). For example, 17 million iPhones have been sold, mostly with expensive all you can eat data plans. I'd suggest that's not because lots of people have been duped, but because they find it useful to have access to email/the web on a phone when travelling, and are willing to pay a bit extra for it.

As to your contention that the iPhone in particular is a cheap Blackberry imitation, I disagree. When I used a Blackberry a few years ago the browser was some pitiful imitation of a real browser, and the email interface was the only thing which had received attention and was useful. They have progressed much with their UI, in part I think because of the competition.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27497521)

I don't generally call people from the toilet, so it's not an issue. Perhaps it would be for you. In my opinion video chat has not caught on because it is expensive and charged at extortionate rates. I expect that to change. Look at desktop computers and you'll see video chat being used all over the world.

No, but people often seem to call me at the worst times ... Also, the video phone came with a flat-rate off-peak plan - it was a dud. People just don't want video chat when they're talking on their cell - probably because, if they're on their cell, they're doing something else at the same time ... like driving, shopping, out walking the dogs, cooking, whatever. It's a dud. We've had video chat on the pc for a decade, and conference-style standard-def video-in-a-server for almost a decade - it's a dud there too except in very limited scenarios ...

It's hard to make sense of the sales figures because a lot of them are driven by "it's all they have". As for the iPhone (and other phones) I don't know anyone who uses them to actually "surf the net ..." we've all got laptops for that, and there's ALWAYS a computer nearby. We want to get AWAY from the internet when we're doing other shit :-)

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27470075)

I agree. But I'm not sure how much longer consumers will have much of a choice. Smart phones are nice for the carriers because it allows them to tack on more services they can charge for. A couple weeks ago I went in to add a line to my AT&T account for my Dad. He's up in his late 60's and has had a pre-paid phone he kept in the car for emergencies, but it wouldn't work too well down on the farm. Last time I was down there, I kept getting pinged with emails, so I knew he could get service if he had a decent phone.

Well I walked into the AT&T company store to get him a basic phone with good reception. The phone didn't need to do anything other than make phone calls, but they didn't have any that would just make phone calls. Everything they had on display were smart phones. Even the most basic phone I could find came with the ability to get mobile TV. (which I admit is cool, but he'd never use it. )

I ended up having to go ATT Wireless's website to find just a basic phone.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 5 years ago | (#27479215)

The phone didn't need to do anything other than make phone calls, but they didn't have any that would just make phone calls. Everything they had on display were smart phones. Even the most basic phone I could find came with the ability to get mobile TV. (which I admit is cool, but he'd never use it. )

Yep - I looked at upgrading my Motorola v180 a few years ago; but kept it nonetheless. At the time, I had a job where I could have a camera in the office. If the phone had one, I would have had to leave it in the car while I worked. Yet, even in an area where >50% of the jobs have such a requirement (Washington D.C. metro area), the phone companies push the idea that "all the demand is for camera phones" so they don't carry anything else. I told them I couldn't have a camera phone and even talked to the manager who said that corporate told them what to carry. I tried to convey they needed to tell corporate that not everyone wanted a camera phone, but it fell on deaf ears.

Now they're doing the same thing with smart phones - certainly no surprise. But guess what? I'm still sticking with my v180.

Of course there is another choice too - buy directly from the manufacturer. The only thing you have to be careful of is to make sure that the phone is compatible with your network. I found a couple phones that didn't have a camera at Motorola's on-line store; and you can get them with or without a plan. But at least you can get what you want.

That said, after 4+ years, my v180's starting to get problematic (the microphone is picking up/generating static noise). I'll probably replace it with an OpenMoko Freerunner (www.openmoko.com); but I'm certainly not paying for a data plan for the thing. (I'll hook it up to my wireless network at home for that.) I have no interest in paying more for features I don't use. (I mostly want the OpenMoko to play with - I'll probably use the bluetooth (in secure mode); but I'll never activate the cellular data network.)

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

EZway15 (1312183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27471159)

Should we expect the mobile carriers to play a role here?

Seems to me that they should be able to see anomalous traffic and shut it down. Nest Pa?

Lesson Du Jour... (2, Informative)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27471529)

This is a peeve of mine, a consequence of spending too long being tested on french grammar.

It's "n'est-ce pas?".

Word for word, that is "is it not?". Figuratively, it's the equivalent of "No?". The "ce", or "it", is usually silent.

Re:Lesson Du Jour... (1)

EZway15 (1312183) | more than 5 years ago | (#27475037)

Ahh we,we. mercy.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467395)

You have the people harping on how cool Android will be because one won't "be locked into one app store" etc.. But in the back of my mind that just increases the risk of someone downloading some "Cool free app" that happens to be a malware app. It only has to happen a few times before the reputation gets out there. And it will happen because people see pops ups now that say, "Hey you have mal ware, down load our malware cleaner." And then they click and install nothing but malware.

But Android will end up being diverse enough to withstand most malware. Even if Android is running on 100% of the phones, not all of them are going to run exploitable versions, others will have more restrictions, still others might be without data and won't receive updates locking them into a specific version.

Also, Android is Linux. You aren't root. Theres nothing you can do to totally mess up your phone. Get a virus? No problem, just delete that user and start again. Sure, you have the downside of losing some contact info if it wasn't backed up, but its sure easier than buying a new phone.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27467411)

Especially if they are at a club and have already had a few to drink and aren't thinking. (I have to take away certain people's iphones when we go out to keep them from doing anything stupid).

Curse you!

Sincerely,

the League of App Developers

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467493)

You forget one thing: virus can very well exploit the phone itself, without any need for AppStore applications.

For example, through a hole in Flash interpreter or exploitable JavaScript vulnerability.

And that's when iPhone monoculture is going to bite you.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (3, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467627)

Through a Flash vulnerability? You really haven't paid much attention to the iPhone, have you?

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27468303)

Just for the heck of it I'll bite: there's no Flash on the iPhone. A disappointment to my avid-gamer younger sister.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27468875)

Through a Flash vulnerability? You really haven't paid much attention to the iPhone, have you?

No, I think you haven't paid much attention to how bad Flash vulnerabilities usually are...

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27469497)

Through a Flash vulnerability? You really haven't paid much attention to the iPhone, have you?

No, I think you haven't paid much attention to how bad Flash vulnerabilities usually are...

Flash: Now so bad, its vulnerabilities can infect platforms without even being installed!

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467871)

Either way, I dread the day that we have to run anti-virus on our phones.

Personally I look forward to the day when I can run any software I like on my phone and my carrier can't lock it down and/or override my own settings. If that implies I have to worry about viruses then so be it. TFA (PDF) states that at least 420 already exist anyway, and I know Avira already offers anti-virus for certain mobile platforms.

Re:One valid reason for the app store... (1)

SamsLembas (1278956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27469677)

Interestingly, many people here use a much similar system to the App Store to install software on their computers. By that, I mean the package managers in our Linux and BSD installations. Like the App Store, these package managers make secure connections to trusted software repositories, allowing us to install software without worrying about malware. Unlike the App Store, if the software we want is not available from the repositories, we can use a different source. But we know the risk, so it is not a big deal. I see no reason why a similar approach cannot be used in mainstream phones. Provide a repository, but also provide a method for installing binaries from other sources. This second method can be plastered with warnings telling the user to be careful. Geeks will probably still be annoyed by the limits of this system, but there is really no reason geeks should be using a mainstream operating system at all, even on their phone (but that is a whole different issue).

No..valid reason NOT to have "app stores" (1)

WebCowboy (196209) | more than 5 years ago | (#27478709)

I know Apple gets flamed a lot around here by people for not being open enough and forcing developers to release apps through the app store, but I've seen it as an attempt to delay and try to prevent malware on the iPhone.

Really, I doubt that malware prevention is even on Apple's list of reasons for marshaling application development through its App Store. If it is, it's waaaay down the list. It is a marketing decision the way Nintendo exhibited tight control over who published games for the NES, or the way the iPod and iTunes service are tightly integrated and interoperability severely restricted.

Apple's App Store is about image and "synergies" and lock-in and creating a captive market. That is all. Not only does it not prevent malware, it in fact makes it a potentially far more serious problem, because it deliberately creates a monoculture ecosystem. Here are some points to consider:

* Viruses are not limited to platform/os--applications themselves can exhibit unintended vulnerabilities. An iPhone worm (or any mobile malware) isn't likely to be an application--it is more likely to be some malformed message/data packet/URL/etc that has nothing to do with qualifying for distribution via the App store, and more likely than not it will use an exploit in an app than in the iPhone OS as the quality of code in apps is more variable.

* The app store limits choice in apps, so each app is likely to have more market share, providing incentive for malware authors in the form of increased potential exposure.

* Apps in the app store are not vetted for security first and foremost--though I'm sure code quality is a factor, content is first and foremost--if it looks "cool" and is inoffensive and doesn't interfere with Apple's business strategies it can go on the app store over "less cool" alternatives that are more secure.

The app store might prevent most malicious apps from getting on the iPhone, but it won't protect against any other malware...plus, should Apple's app store ever gain some sort of dominance it presents a potentially extremely serious vulnerability to mobile network security.

Closing up the environment is NEVER the solution and almost inevitably leads to some sort of tragic failure. Why build a walled garden to keep it pretty when the vermin can dig under the wall and the seeds of weeds can blow over it with the wind? It is totally clear that the sole reason there hasn't been a major mobile virus outbreak is solely due to marketplace diversity. Even though that marketplace is full of closed players that is because it is young and fragmented. History has shown that such closed strategies promote the development of a dangerous monoculture.

It's refreshing to see that in this pre-shakeout industry that there are viable open-based alternatives like Andriod (and efforts like OpenMoko and Angstrom) fighting for presence. In the PC industry fragmentation gave way to a monoculture because consumers demanded interoperability and that demand was filled by a closed solution at a time when the modern Free software movement was in its infancy in the halls of academia. Now that inevitable demand for interoperability can be met with numerous diverse but interoperable Free solutions.

We haven't seen an outbreak yet (4, Insightful)

Landak (798221) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467225)

The fact that we've yet to see a large mobile phone virus outbreak is wonderful proof that, (in many cases) shoddy coding, idiotic users, dodgy design methods and ample methods of communication between devices and "the wider world" does not automatically imply "virus city".

The distributed and diverse nature of the mobile OS market means that there have never been (to my knowledge) any large infections on the scale of Blaster or so forth, and yet many (popular!) phones that I've used have had simply *awful* OSes, with known security risks, monolithic kernels, and a wide install base. Such are the benefits of not having a monopoly!

Perhaps if Microsoft were the power it wants to be in the mobile market, we'd be far more familiar with large-scale infections of mobiles. I'm bloody glad it isn't -- MMS messages are down-right extortionate!

Re:We haven't seen an outbreak yet (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467275)

It doesn't hurt that most people don't run MS-Word and Outlook on their phones. Or an easily-compromised web server. Or have a bunch of open ports.

Ironically, unlike a PC, there's only a few ways for a virus to phone home on a phone.

Re:We haven't seen an outbreak yet (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468029)

Symbian seems to have a worse track record for viruses than Windows Mobile.

Re:We haven't seen an outbreak yet (1)

nightglider28 (1243916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468285)

Disclaimer: I'm not a programmer. This post is speculation.

There's also the issue of resources. I think most programmers, nowadays, don't optimize code for minimal resource usage. Virus writers are most likely no different, and thus, probably aren't accustomed to coding for platforms with as few resources as cellphone and other handheld devices. There have been a couple stories on /. about vulnerabilities (buffer-overflows, mostly) in different software that could potentially be dangerous, but are difficult/impossible to exploit due to not enough memory.

Re:We haven't seen an outbreak yet (1)

Mazin07 (999269) | more than 5 years ago | (#27471787)

You'd be surprised at how much you can do in a tiny amount of memory, and even cheap cellphones have a relatively huge amount of memory. Virus writers who know enough to exploit cellphones could code rings around your average cellphone app programmer. Just take a moment and compare your average cellphone's processing power to nineties-era computers and you'll see that memory-usage is the last thing a cellphone-virus writer needs to worry about.

It won't (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467229)

Currently, there are a ton of mobile phone platforms, unlike the desktop. This keeps the number of viruses down, secondly, most phones run slightly modified versions of the OS, not plain versions making exploiting the same hole difficult in the large scheme of things. So as long as a vendor doesn't dominate the Mobile OS market (and with Windows Mobile, Android, Symbian and iPhone OS all going to want to stay in business, it won't) I don't see viruses as being a problem at all.

Phase transistion (3, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467253)

Wouldn't reversing polarity on the flux capacitor and diverting all power to the medical/av deflector prevent the spread of a virus?

Re:Phase transistion (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467333)

That would disable the communication system that, unfortunatelly, is most that cell phones are about.

Re:Phase transistion (4, Funny)

memorycardfull (1187485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467351)

Just be careful not to cross the streams. That would be very bad.

Re:Phase transistion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27469015)

Just be careful not to cross the streams. That would be very bad.

leading to a phased plasma smart phone in the 40 watt range.

Re:Phase transistion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27468023)

not if you dnot cross them

I'm going to laugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27467343)

...when the iPhone's marketshare reaches the kind of threshold this article talks about that results in it being the most popular target for spreading malicious code. Because the irony will be lost on a lot of people here.

Re:I'm going to laugh... (2, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467391)

...when the iPhone's marketshare reaches the kind of threshold this article talks about that results in it being the most popular target for spreading malicious code. Because the irony will be lost on a lot of people here.

Probably won't happen. Too many people just want a phone. I won't even consider an iPhone because it's too bulky. I want a flip-phone so that I can fold it up and ignore it - not have to worry about scratching it. Lets face it - how many times do you drop your phone ...

Also, how many times do you simply *lose* your phone?

Re:I'm going to laugh... (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468395)

"Reaches a certain market-share threshold" != "everybody owning an iphone"

Re:I'm going to laugh... (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468489)

The threshold, is estimated by the authors to be about 1% of the total domestic phone market.

I can understand why some people would just want a phone, but you think that the group of people who will never

buy a smart phone is so astronomically high?

Re:I'm going to laugh... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468921)

You're off by an order of magnitude ... the estimate for efficient propagation of a virus was much more than 1%, as per the cbc article [www.cbc.ca] .

The study predicts that situation will continue until one operator obtains a share of at least 9.5 per cent of the overall mobile market.

If it were realy just 1%, as yu said, we'd already be passed the threshold - symbian is at 3.2% of the entire mobile market ...

Smartphones currently make up about five per cent of the total mobile market, and the most popular smartphone operating system, Symbian, has 64.3 per cent of the smartphone market -- that's 3.2 per cent of the mobile market overall.

Re:I'm going to laugh... (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27470837)

Ah, sorry. They switched notation a couple of times in the paper, which was why I was off by an order of magnitude.

Though, I have a beef with one of their assumptions. (Well, the authors admitted that there were several factors that could cause the threshold to be quite a bit lower)

The idea behind MMS viruses is that they'll spread to everyone on the phone's contact list. But, they couldn't get the contact lists of the phones in the data, so they approximated it by using the calls that a phone made over a 3 month period as a "contact list.

This, on average, approximates things pretty well. Unfortunately, there are a small but significant number of users(Businessman, heavy travelers, social butterflies) who will have large numbers of disparate contacts that they very rarely call.

These "hubs" would likely dramatically decrease the threshold needed.

Luckily, on the other side, multiple and incompatible OS versions serve to further fragment the market, which should buy us a lot of time. For example, the most common Symbian version(7.0), only makes up 25% of Sybian phones. This puts the largest segment of the mobile market at .81%, not 3.2 .

Cellular provider cash cow (1)

dontmakemethink (1186169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467409)

Great, first they make me pay for incoming texts, I wonder how much it'll cost to catch a virus? I'm guessing $1 for receiving it, $1 for each message the virus sent, then another $50 to remove the virus. Of course, 3rd party repairs on the phone are prohibited by the contract, so they've got all the motivation they need to do absolutely nothing to stop viruses.

Re:Cellular provider cash cow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27468673)

Here (in Italy) some of the mobile providers actually PAY you to receive SMSs - a friend of mine has about 18000$ on his cellphone without paying for it

MMS will need to work first. (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27467531)

So far, none of the MMS messages I have sent has ever been recieved, so Viruses are probably held back by the lack of compatibility between networks/handsets. As MMS will be dead in less than a year because e-mail does the same job for free, I dont see this as a major issue.

Mesh Virus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27467695)

There's something important hidden in his data. The fact that mesh networks have issues they'll need to work out before they become viable. Substitute "valuable date" for "virus" and you'll understand.

I didn't RTFA, but what is the phase transition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27467777)

sounds like a buzzword to me...

Re:I didn't RTFA, but what is the phase transition (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27468919)

Basically, as networks grow, their fundamental structure changes.

Right now, the Smart Phone is too fragmented, and so there is no "giant component" of cell-phone users with the same OS who are connected to each other. This, and not technical limitations, is the reason why there have not been any cell-phone virus breakouts.

However, we're getting pretty close to that point, and once a certain threshold is met, there will be a sudden "phase transition", and giant components will form.

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