Nokia seeks lost Marble widgets

Fiddling Finns need a wake-up call

Comment If you heard an unearthly groan coming from your IT department today, the following news may be responsible. Nokia today revealed that it was bringing the security and stability of Web 2.0 to its mobile handsets.

Yes, the class of PC bloatware known as "Widgets" are to run on Nokia's S60 handsets, and the formal announcement speaks of "transforming mobility and the Internet with rich Web 2.0 experiences".

Permit us to translate.

For "Transforming mobility" read: "opening up a secure platform" and for "rich Web 2.0" experience read: "to Javascript worms, pop-up windows and stealth dialers". In other words, it's the presentation layer people who think they can solve infrastructure level problems - and this time, they're coming for your phone.

We already know what you Reg readers think of Web 2.0 security: this survey of opinion should be a must-read for phone executives tempted to sprinkle a little of the Web 2.0 pixie dust on their business strategies.

JavaScript worms are a popular delivery mechanism for Malware on the PC, but as the J in AJAX, they've recently been adopted to take advantage of Web 2.0: causing havoc on MySpace, Yahoo! and, er... MySpace again.

Nokia says it will initially restrict the functionality of the JavaScript worms, before opening the floodgates. Ovum analyst Tony Cripps has glimpsed the horror that awaits us - this is what he said:

"Scripting-based security exploits are commonplace on the desktop," he writes in a research note, "and we believe countermeasures need to be employed early to avoid such issues arising on mobile phones."

He goes on, "Nokia promises to remove the sandbox in a future version once developer support and a signing process have been put in place."

At best, this creates an audit trail after the damage has been done, although there'll surely be something more sinister than a wild goose at the end of it. Many of the people behind these scams do not answer the door politely.

"So overall then, a good effort by Nokia to advance the cause of mobile widgets in a rational way," concludes Cripps.

But what's this "cause of widgets", of which he speaks?

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