2007 could be the year of smart-phone security attacks, a research group has warned.

The Tower Group has predicted a sharp rise in hacker attacks on Internet-enabled phones as a number of new banking and payment services appear.

The research and advisory company, which focuses on the financial services industry, believes that many emerging mobile purchasing services "lack a reasonable and justifiable focus" on security. Among the new mobile wallet services are phones that consumers can use as a credit or debit card.

The success of mobile banking and payment initiatives will be determined by the industry's ability to effectively contain the malware problems to a level that is at least on part with that of the existing Internet channel, TowerGroup said.

More than 200 mobile phone viruses have been identified since phones have been able to support PC-like applications such as email, instant messaging and Web browsing, and the number is doubling every six months, the group said.