Security Platforms/Tools

AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

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.

For more
Read up on how operators and vendors are tackling mobile security:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:56:27 PM
re: AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

Consumers are already really concerned with security when it comes to mobile banking and payments, so having another layer of protection from the wireless operators should help to ease their minds.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:56:27 PM
re: AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

Criminals go where the money is, which is part of the reason Android is so vulnerable. But I think it's also because it's open source. Apple doesn't seem to have nearly as many problems as it does.


ibarrera 12/5/2012 | 4:56:25 PM
re: AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

In my opinion (just that) there are more factors than just the open source.

I think there are more interesting things to analyze. One is the process of accepting applications in the corresponding markets, seems like Apple is more rigurous than Android markets. Second is the provider bloatware, seems to me, that Apple has managed to avoid ATT and other providers adding useless and annoying software, which leads to people trying to get rid of it. Consequently, third: the type of users for Apple are just satisfied with the product and willing to pay for it. Android users tend to go to different sides, tech savvy that want to hack the smartphone, and people looking for cheaper alternatives (hey, I got mine for free). This leads to people trying to unlock the devices for two different reasons (either hacking or gaining access to more free apps in the web) resulting in higher risks.

Yet, android has been working it out better that I'd expect, even with the large problem of device segmentation they currently have.

alandal 12/5/2012 | 4:56:24 PM
re: AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

Android is "open" source? See the link:


jdbower 12/5/2012 | 4:56:21 PM
re: AT&T & Sprint Want More Security for Mobile Users

Remember, that's a study with an agenda.  They're comparing a mobile operating system to:

QT is a development platform.

Symbian before they went closed source.

MeeGo is effectively stillborn.

Mozilla?  Are they talking Firefox, Thunderbird, one of their other projects or as a whole?  Either way, apps and not a mobile OS.

WebKit is a browser.  Granted, one could claim it's the only OS that matters (http://www.xkcd.com/934/) but luckily Android runs it.

Linux never made it as a pure play phone OS, which is too bad.  Android is also based on the Linux kernel, so how does that factor in?  Things get murky very quickly when the L word is mentioned.

Eclipse is a development platform.


I tend to dismiss "openness" ratings in general because they're typically focused on their favorite license (and often with these studies anything that's not locked down with GPL3 preventing people from actually doing what they want with the code is not free).  This study is particularly sillly because it's not comparing things that are really related.

The sad fact of the US smartphone market is that consumers want subsidized phones.  This means that for much of the life of the phone the carrier has a controlling ownership in the device.  As such carriers can drive phones to be as locked down as they want.  However, the openess of Android allows individuals to fork the existing Android code and add or delete whatever they want.  Any other definition of open is just picking nits.

BTW, Honeycomb is a red herring.  It's awful code rushed to have the Xoom out as quickly as possible, being closed out of shame than anything else.  Ice Cream Sandwich will supercede it and reconverge the tablet/phone lines.  Honeycomb also probably prompted this "study" out of nerd rage...

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