Infosec 2013: Sophos updates free Android security app

Google’s Android mobile operating system is an increasingly popular target for malware and SMS phishing, says security company Sophos

Google’s Android mobile operating system (OS) is an increasingly popular target for malware and SMS phishing or SMiShing, says security firm Sophos.

This is because Android has become the world’s most popular smartphone OS. According to comScore, Android claims more than 50% of the mobile OS market.

To help combat this growing threat, Sophos launched the latest version of its free Android security app at Infosecurity Europe 2013 in London.

Sophos's Mobile Security – which now includes spam filter capabilities for text messages and calls – is available as a free standalone version through Google Play.

The app integrates into the security firm’s mobile device management and security system, Sophos Mobile Control, to provide full administrator management and compliance enforcement. 

The spam filters block specific phone numbers and calls with a hidden caller ID, as well as text messages with malicious URLs.

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Every incoming call or text message is scanned by the app’s spam protection feature and the active filter rules are applied successively.

Blocked calls and text messages are logged in the quarantine folder, where they can be restored as needed.

Sending unsolicited commercial text messages is illegal under civil law and recipients of spam texts should neither click on any embedded links nor reply to any message, said Sophos.

According to the US Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, about 60% of mobile phone users have received at least one spam text message in the past year, with about 15% clicking on the link included in the message.

“People trust their personal devices, but security requires vigilance,” said Chris Hazelton, research director, mobile & wireless for 451 Research.

“Gone are the days when hackers merely distributed malware via app stores; these days, consumers are seeing growth in text spam and malicious URLs sent directly to their phones.”

This growth makes mobile security offerings that filter out the noise of unwanted messages all the more important, said Hazelton, especially as smartphones are increasingly the primary device for everyday use.

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