Mobile Security Market Wide Open

When most people think of computer hacking and viruses, they worry about an attack on their PC. But with the advent of mobile phones that can connect to the internet, these types of troubles may be coming to a handset near you. The market for protection programs that battle this is still quite small, despite the growth of 3G devices.

Symantec Corp Chief Operating Officer Enrique Salem thinks that the security market is worth a few hundred million dollars a year.

“It is growing. But given the number of handsets, the number of smartphones, you would think it would be growing at a much higher rate,” Salem said. “I can’t give you an exact number but it is not as fast as you might think.”

In Japan, where the 3G revolution has taken off, sophisticated security products are available for mobile devices. NTT DoCoMo offers software customers can download but they have to pay a monthly subscription fee to use the software.

Currently, most hackers aren’t interested in breaking into cell phones because there are such a variety of operating systems. Unlike creating programs to break into Microsoft’s Windows, which is the operating system for the majority of the world’s personal computers, hackers don’t want to spend their time breaking into an operating system with a relatively limited populous.

“If you’re a bad guy looking to make money off of somebody, you want to spend the least amount of effort to do that. The quickest path to riches is usually the fast one,” said Andrew Jaquith, a security analyst with The Yankee Group.

If open source codes like Android becomes popular in the near future, security issues may become more important. Cellphone security is a niche that needs to be filled as 3G connects us to the Internet while on the go.