Friday, May 11, 2012

Which Smartphone Platform is the Most Secure?

This is a guest post by Oliver MacPherson.

The smartphone revolution has exploded with affordable products designed by various mobile phone companies. The mobile phone is no longer a tool for calling and texting friends and family. With the introduction of the smartphone, we now have a product which is somewhere between our old mobiles and a tablet pc. However, with the benefit of the internet comes the security risk of malware and viruses. The most recent case involved the popular Angry Birds franchise, where a Trojan horse masqueraded itself as the Angry Birds Space game in unofficial Android apps stores. With this in mind, it leads to the question, which smartphone platform is the most secure?

Altimeter Group, Bloor Research and Trend Micro recently carried out research to find out the answer to this question. With the current trend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), some companies have been encouraging their employees to bring their tablet PCs, iPads and smartphones to work to use for work-related activities. This has accelerated the need to answer the above question, given that these devices may have access to important business information.

Unsurprisingly, BlackBerry was top of the charts, which is to be expected given their original target market. Before they became fashionable amongst younger people, BlackBerries were the businessman’s accessory. The key factor seems to be the presence of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), which provides corporate-grade security and manageability, whilst restricting high-risk activities. However, it should be noted that the same does not apply to devices that are user-provisioned via the BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS).

Apple came second in the report thanks to their iOS architecture, which “sand-boxes” all applications in a common memory environment. There are also no options to add removable storage, which provides additional security from unknown memory devices and prevents their products from being tampered with.

The research report found that both Windows and Android have certain security risks with their smartphones. With Android, it claimed that their devices can be exposed to malware and data loss, which can be confirmed by the Angry Birds malware app. However, it did note that there are improved features such as device encryption support.

Windows is a relatively new operating system but it uses privileges and isolation techniques to sandbox items. Although security issues were found with Windows smartphones, the report stated that the system is too new to judge and that Microsoft has made steps to create a robust and secure operating system.

About the Author
Oliver Macpherson has worked in the ssl security industry for several years and enjoys being a part of an industry that constantly changes. He currently works for SSL 247.