Smartphone Platforms -- and Application Marketplaces -- Get Security Scrutiny

Carl Weinschenk

The security of smartphones is a vitally important topic, of course. CNET News offers a look at the status of the two most popular smartphone operating systems on the market, Android and the iPhone. The bottom line is that security concerns extend from the device itself to the marketplaces from which applications are downloaded. The story goes into great detail, but bascially says that the security battle between Android and Apple essentially is a draw.

 

IT says Apple's app store assesses all applications, while Android Market entrants are given all but automatic approval. Android, however, informs users of the resources an application is trying to use, while the iPhone provides applications with standardized levels of resources and doesn't ask permission to execute except for location-based information. Writes CNET's Elinor Mills:

So, in essence, Apple serves as a gatekeeper that may be helpful in keeping blatantly malicious apps out, but if something malicious does sneak in, it could conceivably cause more damage than if it were on an Android because it may be able to access data and resources it shouldn't have access to, experts said.

The good thing about a competitive market is that solutions will emerge once problems are identified. For instance, Good Technology late last month added the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to its Good for Enterprise security and compliance package. Likewise, F-Secure has extended its Mobile Security 6 to Android.

 

It's a good thing that such initiatives are ongoing. Forbes raises some interesting questions both about iPhone security and the ability of Apple to find problems. The story says that 64 bugs were found in versions of the iPhone operating system (not the recently released iOS 64). The story says that Apple found only six of them. Google found 12; AdMob, which Google is acquiring, found one; and "Wushi," a Chinese member of team509, found 15.

 

A few years ago, the common wisdom was that the increasing sophistication of cell phones would lead to an explosion of mobile viruses and malware. To a great extent, that hasn't happened. But the growth of smartphones and, perhaps more importantly, application stores means that the threat remains.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 20, 2010 2:17 AM LetsGoMo LetsGoMo  says:

The threats posed by smartphones are very real since the handsets are now coming under attack by a new generation of malware it will really be a challenge to these companies to cope up with.

Malware, Virus attacks and data leaking issues are problems that have to be countered, but their may possible threats that nobody is aware of as of now.

Major areas to be aware of:

Directed SMS

  Application event drivers

Debugging & Logging

  Wildly variable implementation

  Error Handling

  Failures & Recovery

  Architecture & Design

  'remote control' to 'full mobile application'

  Device Loss or Capture

  Remote control of content.

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