Third party software has limits for mobile device security, warns AT&T security chief

First, third party software, such as anti-virus software used on PCs, is frustrating to use; second, it has technical drawbacks, Amoroso said.

“The idea that you take third party software that you are running on your PC and port it over to your Android device obviously has some challenges”, he told Infosecurity.

Amoroso identified a number of security features that smartphone users are looking for. First, they want to have the ability to put a password on their device. Second, they want to be able to perform a remote wipe in case the device is lost or stolen. And third, they want to be able to have some level of encryption.

“For these requirements, most smartphone manufacturers provide some level of support. Moving forward, as the threat intensifies…the jury is still out on which devices are going to be the most secure”, Amoroso said.

To avoid the problems associated with installing third party software on mobile devices, AT&T is teaming with Juniper to embed security in the wireless network itself. Amoroso said that AT&T is one of the first US mobile service provider to offer this type of security service.

The AT&T security chief said that point solutions do not provide the security required in a fast evolving security threat environment. “We are trying to take more of a platform view. There are three security components to our platform. There is the component on the device, there is the component managed by the enterprise, and the component that is embedded in the network….Anyone of these components can be used to stop the attack”, Amoroso explained.

The first phase of the platform – the AT&T Mobile Security application – is expected to be available later this year and is based on the Juniper Networks Junos Pulse product.

According to AT&T, the application will enable businesses to maintain compliance with government regulations; enforce security policies; manage personal or enterprise-owned devices; and enable anti-virus, anti-malware, and application monitoring and control.

“Mobile threats are going to become more intense…and integrated. Attackers always find the path of least resistance so they can get at you through broadband, business VPN, or mobile 4G. They are going to do whatever is easiest”, Amoroso warned.

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