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Google program manager: No virus problem for mobile

A Google software developer has taken to his own company's social networking site to sound off on public perception that mobile devices are in the cross-hairs of attackers.

Despite a plethora of security software maker reports that warn of a rise in mobile malware, such as a recent one from Juniper Networks, which found that malicious Android samples have spiked 472 percent since July, Chris DiBona believes the handheld platform is far more secure than traditional computing environments.

And vendors that sell products in this area are trying to take advantage of a customer base instilled with fear, he said.

In a Wednesday post on Google+, the open source programs manager at the technology giant said he credited more secure coding and built-in mechanisms with making mobile devices better apt to handle threats, such as ones that stem from application stores.

"All the major vendors have app markets, and all the major vendors have apps that do bad things, are discovered, and are dropped from the markets," he wrote. "No major cell phone has a 'virus' problem in the traditional sense that Windows and some Mac machines have seen. There have been some little things, but they haven't gotten very far due to the user sandboxing models and the nature of the underlying kernels."

He called out both analysts and anti-virus companies for spreading a message of hoopla.

"Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you ... protection software for Android, RIM (BlackBerry) and iOS (Apple)," DiBona wrote. "They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for Android, RIM or IOS, you should be ashamed of yourself."

Harry Sverdlove, CTO of Bit9, an application whitelisting company, agreed that open source platforms like the Android aren't any less secure than proprietary systems. But Sverdlove described the Android ecoystem as "chaotic" due to the "low barrier of entry" by which developers can submit applications to the Android Marketplace.

"Of course there's definitely a lot of overhype [among security vendors] but there's a lot of reality too, and there are a lot of bad apps out there," Sverdlove told on Monday.

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