googleandroidWhen Google’s Android platform is unleashed on the public later this year and Apple’s iPhone SDK is released later this month (our coverage), mobile computing is likely to take off like never before. Developers, startups, and customers alike are all going to benefit from this newfound openness in a mobile world that has been decidedly closed since its inception.

There is however, a very real threat that the opening up of the mobile world will lead to security issues as noted by Red Herring today.

A study by technology security firm McAfee showed that one in seven global mobile users have been exposed in someway to a mobile virus. Another survey conducted by McAfee concluded that almost three out of four users were concerned about the security of mobile services.

Mobile devices are of particular concern as they have taken over many of the simple and not-so-simple tasks that a desktop or laptop computer used to provide a person.

Apple’s iPhone has been skyrocketing up the smartphone sales charts – and just months after its release is already in 2nd place in the United States in terms of marketshare behind only Blackberry-maker RIM (the iPhone is in 3rd place globally where Nokia dominates). Meanwhile, when Google’s Android platform is released later this year on a variety of handset makers, smartphone growth could accelerate even more.

Both of these companies’ growth in the mobile realm is important because they are the ones pushing the other mobile manufacturers and carriers to be more “open” as well.

These next-generation smartphones are also being used much more regularly to directly access the Internet – linking the devices up to potential security breaches and malware. Yesterday, Google released data indicating that they were seeing 50 times as many search requests coming from the iPhone than from any other mobile device. Google’s head of mobile operations Vic Gundotra even thinks that mobile searches could outpace fixed computer searches in the next several years.

While this is great news for developers hankering to gain access to a new market, security cannot be overlooked. If users are annoyed when the Blackberry network goes down for a few hours, just imagine how frustrated they will be when a virus wipes out the data they were storing on their cellphone – or when someone remotely connects to their device to steal their information.

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