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Smartphones: smart but are they safe?

Smartphones: smart but are they safe?

It’s 2011 and the Rise of the Smartphone is upon us. The hardware being built into cellular phones is rapidly converging with prior Desktop / Notebook technology.

The way I see it there a 3 main types of Smartphone users: –

    • Personal use consumers.
    • Corporate Road Warriors with full connectivity to company remote data, servers and email.
    • Smartphone Worker Bees who use it as a productivity tool but don’t have the backend to exploit like the Road Warriors.

The Smartphone is at the sharp end of it and with their connection to Push Mail Servers, Cloud Storage, Remote Server Connection, their onboard Contacts, Calendar et cetera. The question is, are Smartphones secure?

I asked several people via Twitter and Facebook who own different Smartphones and I consider to be expert or power-users the same question I asked Microsoft in the screengrab below.

Particularly thanks to @ricktep (Rick Teplitz) of Imperva for providing me with a link to their blog which had a thought provoking piece on the subject. I strongly recommend you read it. I’ll be looking at the rest of their blog too.

http://blog.imperva.com/2010/11/trend-6-mobile-devices-compromise-data-security.html

Let’s break it down: this is a summary of the answers I got and research I did myself: –

Table 1: Preinstalled / OS functionality

  iPhone Blackberry Android Windows Phone

Password Protection

yes

yes

yes

yes

Data Encryption

iOS4

AES / DES encryption

There’s an app for that

SSL

AES
HMACSHA1
HMACSHA256
Rfc2898DeriveBytes
SHA1
SHA256

Security Apps *

see table 2

see table 2

see table 2

see table 2

Remote “Bricking” if stolen

There’s an app for that

yes via Network or App for personal users

remote locate

remote locate via Live service

Table 2: Security Apps * (incomplete list)

  iPhone Blackberry Android Windows Phone
Norton Smartphone
Antivirus Firewall SMS-antispam
      WinMob 5/6
Norton Mobile (beta)
Remote bricking
    Android 2.x  
McAffee EMM
comprehensive security including secure remote access
iOS3 onwards   Android 2.2 WinMob 5/6

McAffee Mobile Content
antimalware

online service online service online service online service
McAffee Mobile Security
Enterprise solution inc. real time antimalware
      WinMob 5/6
F-Secure Mobile Security
Real time antivirus Firewall Anti-theft
    Android 1.6 / 2.x WinMob 5/6
AVG
Real time antivirus Anti-theft SMS-Antispam
    Yes  
ESET
Antivirus Firewall Antitheft AntiSpam SMS/MMS..
      WinMob 5/6
Kaspersky Mobile Security 9 (*features not for all OS)Antitheft Call/SMS filter Privacy protection* Encryption* Parental Control* Antivirus*   BB 4.5 – 6 Android 1.6 – 2.2 WinMob 5/6

These tables show that security is available should the CIO or personal user want it. No two companies support all major platforms in fact, Panda Security has no mobile solution at all at present and furthermore. It appears that the most under-secured Smartphone seems to be the iPhone. Is this a carryover from the Apple sentiment that

“viruses are something that only happen on PC’s?”

Even if you say that Smartphones are unsecured points of access you are still effectively disregarding any sync’d or local data stored on the Smartphones.

How come the Smartphone Companies, Cellular Providers or Security Software Vendors aren’t beating our doors down to offer these services?

I’ll finish by throwing down the gauntlet to Panda whose products I like and use. You were the pioneers in Online security with Cloud Antivirus why is this product not being revamped to support all the major Smartphones?

So what do you think, does your Smartphone need the same level of protection as your PC?

 
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