McAfee Offers New Privacy Protection to Android Device Users
McAfee is expanding its mobile security solution with privacy features to protect Android tablet and smartphone users from apps that may look to access personal information on their devices.
At a time when the number of cyber-attacks on Android-based devices is skyrocketing, McAfee's Mobile Security software also reports to the user apps that may be associated with risky Websites or may be sending personal information to those sites, according to McAfee officials. The new App Alert feature does this by checking the apps against a URL reputation database, which is part of McAfee's Global Threat Intelligence Network, according to company officials.
The goal of the security software, announced Aug. 20, is to protect users from viruses, identity theft and financial fraud, all of which are becoming increasing concerns, given the rapidly growing use of mobile devices for everything from paying bills and shopping online from their smartphones and tablets to accessing social networks, and the number of users that aren't savvy to how permissions of them by apps can hamper security.
"Android apps can ask for 124 types of permissions--these apps could be invading your privacy and exposing your personal life," Luis Blando, vice president of engineering at McAfee, said in a statement. "With McAfee Mobile Security, consumers can now filter their App Alert notifications to just those apps that are using permissions of interest or concern to the user."
Google's Android mobile OS continues to be a popular target for cyber-criminals, given the diverse and open app marketplace where developers can post their software.
At the same time, Android's market share continues to grow, as does the sheer number of Android-based devices. (According to ComScore, in the first quarter this year, 51 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers have Android-based devices, compared with Apple's 30 percent share.)
The result has been a rapid increase in the amount of malware directed at Android. According to a report in February from Juniper Networks, the amount of malware targeting Android in the last seven months of 2011 jumped 3,325 percent in 2011 over the year before, and Android malware accounted for about 46.7 percent of unique malware samples that targeted mobile platforms. Java Mobile Edition was second, at 41 percent.