Just when you thought you’d gotten a leg up in the battle against viruses and hackers, news drifts in from the Mobile World Congress that while you may have suitably protected your PC, your cell phone may be under increasing risk. Don’t panic yet — according to a survey conducted by IT security firm, McAfee, only about 2-percent of cellphone users queried had been hit by a virus. However, the survey reveals that virus attacks in Japan, the world’s most developed mobile phone market, are much more prevalent than in the U.S.

“Viruses aren’t a huge issue now, but they have the potential to be so in the future when Internet use is more widespread, said Pete Nuthall, a telecom analyst at the Forrester market research company.

As the mobile phone industry nudges consumers towards using their handsets as mobile computers, more and more users will access the Internet to download videos and games, sources of potentially rich revenue streams for manufacturers, and become more vulnerable to viruses and spyware. Although the incidence of mobile virus attacks is still relatively low, approximately 110,000 phones in Spain fell victim in 2006 to a cyber worm known as Commwarrior. The worm used Bluetooth wireless technology to jump from one mobile phone to another, infecting phones that have Symbian Series 60 operating systems.

“As multimedia capabilities liken cell phones to computers, the same risks that computers carry are migrating into the mobile setting,” said Eric Everson, founder of MyMobiSafe.com, a firm that specializes in cell phone security.

“If you wouldn’t trust your computer without an antivirus solution, then the same should hold true for your cellphone too,” Everson said.