Mobile Enterprise: Mobile Expansion Needs More Security

3 minute read
Marisa Peacock avatar

This week, when we say mobile, you say security.

Mobile Security and Android OS

Mobile security is important no matter what device you use. While most security applications may focus on the BlackBerry or iPhone, other smartphone devices like Google’s Android had to find their own way to protect their information.

When Android OS edged out Apple's OS during the first quarter of 2010 (by 27%), naturally, the market for apps catering exclusively to Android users expanded. As far as security is concerned, DroidSecurity’s mobile security app -- antiVirus free -- has been among the preferred downloads. For June 2010 alone, DroidSecurity reports it had over 500,000 new downloads of its anti-virus app.

Recently, DroidSecurity, a provider of cloud-based mobile security dedicated to protecting devices and appliances running on the Android operating system, announced that they had surpassed the 2.5 million-user threshold for antiVirus free.

To put that number in perspective, back in June Android co-founder and Google vice president Andy Rubin announced that 160,000 Android devices are being sold per day, or roughly 58.4 million a year, which is what Apple’s iPhone sells in a quarter.

Regardless, we’re all for taking a proactive approach to mobile security, which has been backed up by a number of recent reports highlighting the risk that most mobile users unknowingly accept.

With Some Apps, Users Willingly Put Themselves at Risk

According to research by Lookout Inc, a mobile security company, a quarter of free iPhone apps, and half of free Android apps, contain code that deliberately collects sensitive information from users. Perhaps even more alarming, Apple’s review process isn’t as finely tuned to detect such serious problems. As for Google’s review process, well, there isn’t much of one.

But it’s the user who is letting these apps wreak havoc. Because even though Apple does indicate when an app wants to see location information about a user and Google shows a list of warnings associated with a particular app, users usually go ahead and download it anyway.

Learning Opportunities

Majority of Devices to be Web-Capable by 2015

As smartphones become even more prevalent, low-cost devices are becoming increasingly web-enabled, making the need for mobile security almost urgent. Yet, will it be able to keep up?

According to ABI Research, more than 60% of handsets will have mobile web browsers by 2015, essentially doubling today's rate and bringing the total number or web-enabled phones to 3.8 billion. While the report didn’t examine the role of security, we can only imagine what it means.

How Much Data Do You Consume?

Finally, let’s examine the amount of data we actually consume via our smartphones and mobile devices.

A study by Validas, a research firm that gathers data from phone bills, shows that Verizon subscribers with smartphones (excluding BlackBerry) power through an average of 450MB per month -- up more than double from last fall, before Verizon's Droid-branded line hit the market. In comparison, during that same period, iPhone users averaged about 350MB of data consumption, while BlackBerry users across all carriers were averaging less than 50MB.

Yet, this data might be a little uneven, since there are many more iPhone users on AT&T than there are Android users on Verizon. Additionally, each device promotes different functionality. As a result, users use them differently.