Security expert: Cybercrooks to target mobile tech

Former White House cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt has warned SDKs for mobile devices will aid the development of malware

Mobile devices are going to become the next big target for cybercriminals, who will be helped by the greater availability of tools to develop software for them, according to one security expert.

Speaking to ZDNet.co.uk sister site silicon.com at the Infosecurity Europe 2008 conference in London, former adviser to the White House on cybersecurity Howard Schmidt said: "[Mobile is] going to become a rich target area for the bad guys."

Wielding both an iPhone and BlackBerry, Schmidt said the sheer ubiquity of mobile devices and their greater connectivity to the internet means they are the next logical focus area.

He said the availability of software-development kits (SDKs) for mobile devices increases the possibility of malicious code being designed specifically for mobiles.

Schmidt explained: "As SDKs became more available for PCs, people wrote malware, viruses, worms and applications that looked like legitimate things but, in reality, were stealing data. So it's not unreasonable to suspect that that's going to be the next attack vector, particularly as we depend more and more on mobile devices."

Schmidt also stressed the current security threat around applications in general.

He said: "I think… businesses depend on applications to make them successful, but they're also the biggest weaknesses because of the vulnerabilities that we have in applications. And that's what we've seen the bad guys shifting towards, moving away from network-based attacks."

"You have all of this active content; you have the ability, instead of just looking at things, [to] now [change] things and [add] things and, oftentimes, these are great technologies and resources but they're not designed with security in mind," Schmidt said.

Schmidt also reaffirmed his backing for a central UK e-crime police unit: "If you have a centrally, high-located organisation looking after these sort of issues, you're not competing for resources; you're very focused."

He added that such an organisation would raise the level of expertise, provide a better view of what's going and ultimately benefit society.