Essential Guide

Tips and tricks for ensuring mobile data security

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Why Android malware protection is so important in the enterprise

Just because an app came from the Android Market doesn’t make it safe. Devices have to have Android malware protection to keep phones and tablets shipshape and enterprise-ready.

It doesn’t really matter which Android malware protection app your organization’s users have. It just matters that

they have some defense.

Android devices are open to a number of different threats, most of which come from downloaded apps. During installation, each app requests specific permissions, such as the ability to access the contacts list or to open websites. The Android operating system tells the user what systems and data an app will access, but the OS won't block any app activity after installation. Therefore, every Android device should have an Android malware protection program.

The risks that an app brings to a device depend on its origins. Most apps come from the Android Market, but some vendors also offer apps from their own websites. In the case of the Android Market, Google previews apps before they become available, which is designed to minimize the risk of downloading a malicious app. But apps with malware such as DroidDream have made their way into the Android Market in the past, and the standards for acceptance into the Android Market are not as strict as those of other app stores. Apps that come from third-party websites don’t receive any kind of approval from a trusted, independent source, so if users intend to use apps from third-party vendor sites, installing  Android malware protection software should be a requirement.

The Android Market offers several Android malware protection apps, but most of them are fairly similar. Apps will typically scan a program for malware, even before a user installs it on his or her device. If they detect malware, they notify the user and prevent installation.

A popular Android malware protection application is Norton Mobile Security. The free version provides an antimalware scanner and antitheft function, and the full, paid version adds Web protection, plus call and text blocking. Web protection ensures that personal data is secure while the user surfs the Web, and call and text blocking make sure that apps won’t use the device’s SIM card to make phone calls and send text messages. These advanced features are available for an annual subscription of about $30 (depending on location). You can judge whether this cost is worth the risk to your organization and its users.

Other players on the market include McAfee and AVG Antivirus, who also make Android malware protection available for free. The bottom line is that users should install any one of these antimalware apps to avoid security issues on their Android smartphones and tablets.

This was first published in January 2012

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Essential Guide

Tips and tricks for ensuring mobile data security

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