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MoSt 2015: Mobile Security Technologies 2015

We move on to the next in our series of hindsight discussions. Today, we discuss Mobile Security Technologies 2015. Join us as we look back on thoughtful discussions we had that year. Like previous years, MoST brought together brilliant minds that continued to blaze trails in the fields of mobile security.

This year’s keynote speaker was Adrian Ludwig, a head engineer for Android security at Google. He holds a BA in Mathematics from Williams College and an MBA from the University of California in Berkeley. He discussed Android Security Data and Research Directions. It was a thoughtful discussion regarding Google’s complete dedication to providing end users with upgraded protection from malware and other forms of cyber attacks.

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This was quite relevant that year as a staggering amount of T-Mobile users had their information compromised. Granted, that their details were taken after the company Experian was hacked. However, this hack was damaging as it took a lot of crucial personal data from users. These are critical information that could, at any point in time, be carried by mobile devices.

Mobile devices have seen a total spike in malware attacks which particularly target programs and applications that have transactional value. At least 25% of all mobile devices have encountered threats each month. This comes after 2014 where in 1 in 5 Android users have experience a mobile threat. iOS users were not in the clear as well. In the year 2015, iOS users had experienced a 262% increase in the number of vulnerabilities since 2011.

While much has been done to provide end users with better applications, user complacency has always been a large factor in mobile security. A lot of users still install apps and software from unverified sources. Another source of vulnerability is the fact that end users dig in their heels when it comes to OS updates. The greatest vulnerability that permeates mobile devices would be users that jailbreak or root their units in order to access free programs.

We cannot place enough emphasis on that last one. When you jailbreak your phone, your actions completely remove your phone’s built-in security features. Every researcher who has spoken at MoST have placed critical emphasis on educating end users and making them part of keeping their mobile security intact.

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A submission entitled “Analyzing End Users’ Knowledge and Feelings Surrounding Smartphone Security and Privacy” stressed the drastic increase of threats that users face. This paper proposed that researchers must focus on security by default mechanisms. These should be configured in a simple manner as to not alienate less technical savvy users. They clarified that additional empirical research must be done better understand how an end user can be made an intrinsic part of their mobile device security. If end users are made aware of threats and mitigations, they will be better equipped to protect their assets.

MoST has continued to provide much needed spotlight on fresh perspectives that trickle into what we know mobile security is today. It is a completely wonderful achievement for all.

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