> Exactly what you deserve when you download a virus load it onto
> your PDA and run it
You might think so but the ethical principles of my profession dictate that I avoid such "blame the victim" attitudes. Our job is to protect the user - not to explain him how stupid he has been to do the idiocy he has done. It would be like a police officer telling the victim of a rape "It's your own bloody fault, if you were stupid enough to walk alone in the night through that dangerous neighborhood".
> there are an awful lot of steps to getting a virus on your PDA
That depends on the virus and on the PDA. With some viruses and PDAs it's as easy as accepting an MMS message of a particular kind.
> plus it's not exactly hard to reset and HotSync is it?
It's not exactly easy, either. I had to do it three times before I installed all the programs I wanted installed on my device - and it truly sucks to do it. All kinds of preferences are not backed up by default and you have to go through a lengthy process of tinkering with the different applications and categories, in order to get them in their original state. Not to mention that some data can be lost.
It's better to restore from a full backup on a memory card - but how many people take the precaution of having one? About as many as those who backup their PC regularly, I'd say. :-)
> The current machines are not virus proof, but then it's pretty
> hard to get a virus onto them.
I haven't investigated what exactly the net-aware PalmOS devices are capable of (i.e., how they handle MMS and Bluetooth communications), but it's pretty damn easy with the Symbian devices - and viruses for them have already been found in the wild.
> The newer machines have better security, and that will continue
> to improve as we head into the future making the possibility of
> a virus on a PDA which could attack in the same manner as Windows
> viruses very difficult indeed.
Hopefully - with all this digital signing, cryptographic policy enforcement and stuff. Me, I'll believe it when I see it.
> The other problem here is if you look at the standard model for
> viruses right now. they are released onto the internet inside
> programs which people want (generally speaking cracked versions
> of products).
Uhm, what kinds of viruses are you talking about? In the PC world "viruses are spread mainly by pirated software" has been a myth for a decade and a half already. Recently some Symbian malware was found on sites carrying cracked Symbian programs - is this what you're referring to?
In the PC world, nowadays viruses are spread mostly as e-mail attachments that say something like "look what a great program" and which people run because of sheer stupidity.
> These are downloaded and run by unsuspecting freeloaders and the
> program spreads through their machine, which is connected to the
> internet, and infects others who download from them.
Are you referring to the P2P networks? Because, with the exception of them, PC users rarely download from each other.
> The current PDA model is very different, people go to
> PalmGear/Handango and the like and download from there, or from
> a developers own site. These are safe environments,
They are? :-)
> if a virus was in a program there then it would be found and
> destroyed pretty quickly. It has no chance to spread to a
> widescale audience.
You don't say. :-) The first macro virus, WM/Concept.A, was spread in a document on a CD-ROM coming directly from Microsoft. It spread world-wide like wildfire. Trojanized versions with backdoors have been found in many popular open source tools - after the attackers have obviously hacked the distribution sites. And so on.
> What is the difference between 'popular' and 'majority' exactly?
"Majority" means "more than the others" (or "more than the half" in some contexts). In that aspect, the majority of computer users are Windows users. "Popular" means that there is a large enough population of users - even though other OSes might have even more users. For instance, Linux is a popular OS (and there are many viruses for it) - although its users are not the majority.