NEWS FROM THE LAB - Monday, April 6, 2009

Understanding the Spreading Patterns of Mobile Phone Viruses Posted by Mikko @ 12:42 GMT

The latest issue of Science publishes a research paper titled Understanding the Spreading Patterns of Mobile Phone Viruses.

The paper is by Pu Wang, Marta C. Gonz�lez, C�sar A. Hidalgo and Albert-L�szl� Barab�si

We model the mobility of mobile phone users to study the fundamental spreading
patterns characterizing a mobile virus outbreak. 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.

The paper more or less ignores the effects of technical safeguards built into modern smartphones operating systems.

Another weird thing: the paper mentions that the reason why there hasn't been more mobile outbreaks is that no smartphone operating system is dominating enough. Then in the next paragraph it mentions that Symbian has, oh, 65% market share of all smartphones.

In any case, an interesting paper. And lots of pretty pictures.

mobile phone spreading patterns

mobile phone spreading patterns

mobile phone spreading patterns

mobile phone spreading patterns

Link to the paper (PDF)

Link to the supporting data (PDF):

Thanks for the links to Nick Fitzgerald.

Here's more info https://www.f-secure.comf-secure.com/weblog/archives/mobile.htm">mobile phone virus and trojan removal.