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    Wall Street Journal: Dark Side Arises for Phone Apps

    The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article about the privacy and security of applications on smartphones and other mobile phones:

    Online stores run by Apple Inc., Google Inc. and others now offer more than 250,000 applications such as games and financial tools. The apps have been a key selling point for devices like Apple’s iPhone. But concerns are growing among security researchers and government officials that efforts to keep out malicious software aren’t keeping up with the apps craze. […]

    Unlike Apple or BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., Google doesn’t have employees dedicated to vetting applications submitted to its Android store. Google said it removes apps that violate its policies, but largely relies on users to alert it to bad software. “We check reactively,” said a Google spokesman. “There is no manual bottleneck.” […]

    As more companies, governments and consumers use wireless gadgets to conduct commerce and share private information, computer bad guys are beginning to target them, according to government officials and security researchers. […]

    The FBI’s Cyber Division recently began working on a number of cases based on tips about malicious programs in app stores, Mr. Snow said. The cases involve apps designed to compromise banking on cellphones, as well as mobile “malware” used for espionage by foreign nations, said a person familiar with the matter. To protect its own operations, the FBI bars its employees from downloading apps on FBI-issued smartphones.

    The vulnerability of mobile computing is also a concern for the U.S. Air Force, which worries about theft of military information or the use of personal details to scam or extort airmen and women.

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