New mobile security challenges

For years, analysts have predicted most Internet users would end up with an all-in-one device that replaces all others. However, as new devices emerge, users are often adopting new technologies without replacing the old, making the sight of somebody with a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet familiar to many.

The rapid adoption of multiple devices on multiple platforms makes securing several platforms at the same time an increasingly complex task.

Windows XP is still the favorite of online criminals

In October, Statcounte stated that Windows 7 had become the most popular PC operating system in the world. It now exceeds Windows XP in terms of market share. But this does not mean we can expect a dramatic decline of Windows XP just yet.

Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure says: “People seem to be adding new systems without necessarily abandoning their old XP machines, which is great news for online criminals, as XP continues to be their favorite target.”

Windows Phone 7 gets in the game

Early in 2011, Nokia announced a major partnership with Microsoft. This partnership could dramatically transform the mobile market-space as Nokia leaves Symbian, which had been the most popular mobile OS in the world through 2010, for Windows Phone 7. Nokia has recently released new mobile phones, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, which use Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed “Mango”.

While other manufacturers are integrating social networks such as Twitter and Facebook into their devices, Microsoft is also focusing on social gaming. Eager to pick up ground in a crowded mobile market, Microsoft is using free Xboxes to hook young users as WP7 syncs with their Xbox Live Network.

“Windows developers should have an easy time creating apps for all current versions of Windows. All of these platforms make use of Microsoft’s .NET framework, which makes apps easily portable between Windows 7, Xbox Live and Windows Phone 7. Perhaps malware authors will eventually take advantage of this portability?”, Sullivan says.

Tablet banking will be the safest way to bank

Some advanced threats, such as “Spitmo” target European banks’ authentication systems. But it has been somewhat surprising that mobile banking isn’t targeted more often. Perhaps a seven-inch screen just isn’t big enough to attract large numbers of mobile banking customers. Therefore, there are no mobile banking Trojans. However, tablets do provide enough display space to do your banking. For now, tablet banking (using encrypted WiFi) is probably the safest platform available.

Windows computers have long been the weakest link in online banking security. People can now use their tablets. How long before criminals follow?

Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure, says: “There will be many interesting surprises in 2012’s threat landscape, though some things will remain the same. “We don’t expect a drop-off in Windows based threats just because other platforms are emerging. The market isn’t just changing, it’s growing. I have no doubt that some innovative criminal will find some way to exploit that growth.”