IT managers must extend their existing malware and virus security initiatives to include mobile phones, according to the latest TowerGroup research which predicts that cyber criminals will increasingly target mobile banking and payment systems in 2007.
Bob Egan, chief analyst at TowerGroup says over 200 mobile viruses have already been identified, and this number is doubling nearly every six months.
"Now is the time for IT managers and line of business heads within institutions to take action to protect both their companies and customers from mobile malware," he adds.
While most mobile phones are potential targets, TowerGroup says smart phones and wireless PDAs are particularly attractive to fraudsters as they are able support PC-like applications including Web browsing and instant messaging.
The group says that current mobile commerce initiatives emerging from the financial services industry "lack a reasonable and justifiable focus on mobile malware".
"The success mobile banking and payments, as well as the concept of the mobile wallet, will be measured against the industry's ability to effectively contain the malware problems to a level that is at least on par with that of the existing Internet channel," says Egan. "Now is the time for IT managers and line of business heads within institutions to take action to protect both their companies and customers from mobile malware."
Egan says the the mobile commerce industry beyond financial services players must also take more aggressive and immediate actions to circumvent the potential of fraud and theft.
In order to protect against virus attacks on mobile devices, and infiltration of these viruses into computer networks and databases, TowerGroup recommends that banks create enforceable policies regarding mobile usage that are communicated to employees, including what type of downloads are safe and allowable.
Banks should also restrict the use of personal mobile phones that can be used for corporate activities, mirroring the security and protocols now in place for PCs, says TowerGroup.