Mobile Security in the Apps Era Author: Eric Everson, MBA, MSIT-SE
Today we are enjoying a flood of new highly anticipated content into the mobile industry. With apps (small mobile software applications designed for a mobile handset) ushering in a new era of mobile communication and interaction, much of the excitement in the mobile industry is underpinned by issues in mobile security.
2010 has seemingly opened the floodgates for new apps into the mobile market. With phones like the Apple iPhone and Motorola Droid standing out as class leaders in this new era, apps are quickly becoming part of our culture. The problem is that not all apps are created equal and some apps may open some unexpected doors.
This has already been the case this year as we have seen mobile banking apps released by the most popular app retailers that turned out to be malware. In these instances, the apps looked like the official banking apps, but instead of logging into your bank account, your information was being sent to a sophisticated network of hackers. While the app retailers were quick to banish these particular apps due to negative press, similar threats are unleashed every day.
As an industry we have gone about security in a way that has created significant vulnerabilities for the apps era. As consumers in this industry we treat our handsets as disposable technology and opt against third-party mobile security solutions, despite that 9 out of 10 people agree that they wouldn’t go online with their laptop without at least a firewall or antivirus solution in place. We do not afford this same level of protection to our cell phones, yet increasingly much of the time we spend online is migrating into the mobile environment. Without antivirus/firewall protections in place on your mobile handset, you are just as likely to contract a harmful strain of code on your phone.
This is not intended to sway users against opening their arms to the apps era, because there is a lot of valuable content of high quality being introduced into the market too. Differentiating the good from the bad remains our greatest conflict to date in this rapidly growing app era. The vetting process for new apps must be improved and a quality standard must soon be adopted to pave the way for a safer mobile experience.