Innovative protection for Android devices

Things move apace and before you know it you’re living and working as an information security & risk management professional in a city from a futuristic Hollywood movie. The kind where you work with documents virtually, scanning them in the open air with your fingers. The kind where everything is voice activated. The kind of world where face recognition technology unlocks doors, cabinets and vaults – digitally and real.

That world, so to speak, is now, or at least we’re on the periphery of a new digital age as imagined many years ago by thinkers, futurologists and philosophers.

In terms of protection, on Android devices specifically, we’re already somewhere exciting. As we discussed in a previous post, the threats to Android smartphones are very real, and threats to cyber security are an ongoing risk which must be met with innovative ideas.

Take for example Google’s new ‘face unlock’ feature on the latest Android devices packing Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0), a self explanatory phone locking system which fundamentally does away with pin numbers and replaces it with the owners face. While it is still in its infancy, it is a system which is yet to be fooled – photos of the owner return a negative response.

Unless you are inclined to get the lasest Nexus however, you won’t yet be privileged to ICS and such features. In the meantime then, let’s discuss what security measures are out there right now.

One of the most interesting developments is using GPS to track a stolen smartphone and not only remotely trace it, but allow for important and sensitive data to be wiped. Consider the free app Remote Phone Lock&Track, which allows you to do a range of things including wiping all internal memory, memory from an SD card and help locate it. HTC have built a similar function in to their Sense overlay.

Another free app is the LBE Privacy Guard (root required), which helps negate the weaknesses that come with an open source platform. It works in a similar vein to an interactive firewall, whereby every app you install is thoroughly scanned and then listed by the number and types of permissions it requests – thereby giving you the power to block those which are unnecessary.

Encryption – a powerful word in information security, forensics and governance. One such platform is WhisperCore, which basically encrypts all the data on your device, so should it go missing you can rest assured that your data is safe. And because WhisperCore integrates with Flashback, you can send your data to the cloud – encrypted.

As with the levels and amounts of threats out there, this is only a brief introduction to the kinds of security measures available to everyone and every business operating off smartphones that come with Android as its operating software. It’s an exciting new age for anyone involved in technology. For every malicious piece of software out there, there’s an equally stringent defence mechanism to counter it.

The battle lines are drawn.

Read more about LBE Privacy Guard and Android security in general in the Acumin white paper: http://www.acumin.co.uk/cm/content/resources/white_papers

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