Walls and Gardens and iMusings

This morning, Jeffrey wrote an excellent post on the and .

I have to confess that I don’t always read his posts, mostly because I never miss his podcast and there’s often overlap between what he writes about and what he says, but I read this one all the way through, then went back to a couple of parts of it.

I do not have an iPhone and have no interest in one. I have several friends who have them and I agree that they are really neat gadgets, but I do not see that the increased functionality is worth either the price of the device or the cost of signing up with Southwestern Be–er, Cingula–er, AT&T. I’ve been with my current provider for almost a decade because they give me good value for the money (as well as excellent tech support and customer service the few times I’ve had to call them).

I have a plain old Windows Mobile phone, with the slowness and the memory leaks and all the other features of , but it does what I want it to do, without the . Despite how as a Linux fanboy (or “Linux enthusiast,” as Jeffrey so tactfully puts it) I might complain about Microsoft, neither Microsoft nor my carrier restricts what applications or files I might have on my phone, so long as they are compatible with the OS.

And the phone can multitask. I don’t do a lot of multitasking, but it’s not unusual for me to run the sound recorder, the camera, and the email client while placing a phone call, especially when I’m making notes or taking pictures of oddities for my own blog.

But what particularly attracted my attention this morning were Jeffrey’s comments on security:

I will play devils’ advocate for a second – with a 3rd party app, a malware program could then easily run in the background without you knowing it. With this way the problem can keep a program from accessing your phone data. Yet, Apple should give some “trusted” applications the ability to become multi-task. They could even create a certification program to justify who gets to make apps that run in the background. Yet I still have to close Stitcher to check my mail, then open it back up.

That caught my eye because I had just read a column about malware and cellphones here which echoes what I said about cellphone security a few posts ago. An excerpt:

It appears, however, that the worry-free ride (as regards cellphone malware–frank) will continue, at least in the near future, and not just because Apple quickly circulated a software patch to plug the vulnerability. Rather, for their extended peace of mind, users can credit the more tightly controlled — some would say strangulated — structure of the mobile phone industry in the United States. They can also credit some sheer dumb luck.

Such luck is familiar to users of Apple computers. The machines, though loved by those who buy them, have never caught on around the world. That lack of market share was a protection; virus writers can’t be bothered writing malicious code for so few targets.

The iPhone is in the same boat. As strange as it may sound in a country where so many people have these devices you would think they were given away in Cracker Jack boxes, iPhones worldwide barely register. Instead, it is Nokia mobile phones, running Symbian software, that reign supreme nearly everywhere except the United States.

The whole thing is worth the three minutes it takes to read.

One interesting sidelight: When the phone arrived, it contained a trial version of anti-virus software. After researching the threat, I wiped it the program. As I have said before, sensible persons take sensible precautions.

Back in my Windows days, I read alt.comp.virus almost daily just to keep up with threats and precautions. (For anyone interested in a crash course in computer security, alt.comp.virus is a great place to start.)

Nevertheless, it is not sensible to take precautions against threats that don’t exist.

If a threat suddently materializes, I can wipe and restore the phone, including all the files and third-party software, in less than an hour. That’s well worth the money I’ve saved in not paying for an AV subscription for the almost two years I’ve had the gadget.

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