Mobile devices can be an extra security system

Mobile devices can be an extra security system

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Category IT Security
Article date 15 March 2012
Mobile devices can be an extra security system
The use of internet and data transfer via mobile devices such as smartphones has brought a new set of security headaches to many businesses of late, but technology is rapidly developing and soon the handheld devices will be much safer than traditional computer systems.

This is the opinion of Jon Callas, chief technology officer at software encryption firm Entrust. He believes that without question there is scope for hackers to target mobile networks with malware and viruses, but tweeks in operating systems (including Android) can be carried out to “make the bad guys’ job harder”.

In fact he believes soon smartphones will become security devices in themselves as users will be able to use them to generate one-off passwords for their systems.

It sounds like something similar to the smart key system HSBC currently user for online banking. This enables a user to use one device to generate a passcode for another and make it difficult for a cyber-criminal to hack without having both devices plus some other info together.

Mr Callas explained: "There is a new frontier that is coming, and the new frontier is that mobile devices are soon going to be security improvements rather than yet another device.

“As an example, we have in our identity guard a mobile SDK (software development kit) people can use in their apps – it's being used already by a number of apps for banking transparently, where I would in fact go to my application and behind my back, transparently, a one-time password is being sent to the device. The device itself generates the one-time password and sends it all without me having to do anything.

“The advantage of this is of course that you're getting all of the benefits of the one-time password and all of the benefits of the convenience to the user. Also, because these mobile devices are actually fully-fledged computers, they can do things like upgrade themselves to new, one-time passwords”.

“Feeds can automatically re-enroll them, in a way that if you have a hardware token or smart card is difficult or impossible to do. These new mobile devices, with apps that support what is called 'risk-based authentication' can actually improve security now better than we've ever had it before."

According to a recent study conducted by McAfee, the number of attacks made on smartphones has shot up by more than 400 per cent in the past 12 months.

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