The Windows CE pltform is at an especially high risk of attack according to a new analysis of malware threats.

Kaspersky Lab researcher Alexander Gostev has produced the report, in which it is noted that the Windows CE platform remains wide open to software exploits compared to desktop versions, and allows easy programming access to core operating system functions.

Gostev refers to the growing number of vulnerabilities that have affected the platform, starting with the Duts proof-of-concept virus of 2004 that was able to exploit a security hole unknown to Microsoft, making it a zero-day flaw. "There's no doubt that these vulnerabilities exist. The question is only who will detect them first - a virus writer, or a white hat security researcher," said Gotsev. "The main environment used to develop malicious programs will be .Net, and a significant number of these viruses will exploit vulnerabilities in Windows CE."

Although rival Symbian is a harder platform on which to create native malware - programmers require expensive tools to build Symbian applications - Gotsev is almost as scathing on its security design.

He details a newly-documented and verified vulnerability that would allow an attacker to cause a denial-of-service on a Symbian system simply by sending a small file capable of choking the Web browser, thereby slowing it down. "Even a cursory glance and a few simple experiments reveal that Symbian is riddled with errors," he said.

To date, mobile malware and exploits - which typically spread using a mobile device’s Bluetooth connection - have been a mostly theoretical issue, prompting some to question their significance.

But the pessimism surrounding Symbian seems justified. In 2005, the Trojan Doombot.A , which harboured the Commwarrior.B worm, went turned up to bother a small number of Symbian Series 60 devices. More recently, the worm Commwarrior.Q hit the platform again.