August 11, 2011
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) are taking action against hackers and cyber attackers targeting their customers' mobile devices.
Both tapped security vendors this week as they get new mobile security initiatives underway. Sprint began offering two McAfee Inc. (NYSE: MFE) security apps for select Android smartphones and tablets on Wednesday. AT&T followed on Thursday by announcing it's working with Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) on a comprehensive mobile security strategy. The first iteration of it will be a mobile security app for consumers and enterprise users, available later this year, based on Juniper's Junos Pulse client.
Why this matters
As smartphones become more capable and contain more personal information, the more vulnerable they are to malware attacks. Criminals go where the money is, says Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CTO of security vendor AVG Technologies . And as phones morphed into computing devices, the platform -- especially Android's open OS -- has become the latest target.
"Criminals are spending their time finding vulnerabilities only when they can monetize on them," Ben-Itzhak told LR Mobile in a recent interview. "When you run software [and get] 5 to 10 percent market share, that's when hackers take notice."
Vendors like AVG, McAfee and others offer their own security apps in most mobile app stores, but an attack can reflect poorly on wireless operators as well. It's important that they make moves to protect their customers.
Of course, mobile security is also a revenue-generating opportunity for operators. Juniper Research Ltd. forecasts that mobile security software will reach nearly $3.7 billion in revenues by 2016. AT&T plans to sell its platform to enterprises later this year. Sprint is offering the McAfee app free for a seven-day trial, followed by a $30 yearly subscription. A family version of the app runs $20 a year following a free, 30-day trial.
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