Security and data protection for mobile devices: the next frontier

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Mobile apps have become so ubiquitous in our everyday lives that we take everything about them for granted. We revel in using them to shop, to do our banking and track the progress of project at the office. Mobile apps have simplified our lives immensely and increased enterprise productivity, but they’re also the latest target of cyber-attacks.

Apart from the risk for consumers in general, apps also pose a real risk for corporations. As many apps come pre-installed on users’ devices, normal corporate protection measures don’t apply to them, making corporate data vulnerable to attack.

Marble Security has found that an average enterprise with 2,000 users of BYOD Android and iOS devices will be exposed to 20,000 unique apps from thousands of publishers. Research published by Appknox has revealed that 80 out of the top 100 apps in the world’s major app stores have security vulnerabilities.

Poorly protected apps are the result of the rush to get new apps to market in the shortest possible time and optimum user experience being of prime concern for developers. In the process security suffers. Developers who work on mobile apps that facilitate sensitive transactions, must make high security for their apps a priority, but don’t want to sacrifice smooth user experience. In addition, mobile app developers are often young, focused on features, and don’t have experience of secure coding practices.

Startups working on mobile app security

Appknox, a startup based in Singapore, offers mobile app vulnerability detection and security certification services. The company scans mobile apps for security flaws before and after they are published. Users receive automated reports including a score card of vulnerabilities ranked by severity. Appknox was one of the Top 200 Startups that was chosen to exhibit at Startup Asia 2015 in Singapore last month.

As nearly half of China’s total online shopping is now happening via mobile devices, securing all those transactions is becoming a major concern for major e-commerce companies like Alibaba and JD. With 80 million transactions a day, 45 million of which are done through Alipay Wallet, mobile security has become a strategic necessity for Alibaba. Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial Services Group and China-based venture-capital fund IPV Capital are investing $12 million in Singapore and California-based startup V-Key, giving Ant Financial a minority share in V-Key.

V-Key makes software comparable to antivirus protection for mobile apps. The startup has developed unique technology that provides mobile application security by securing the apps, not the device, making data, mobile transactions, apps themselves secure. The V-OS technology protects user data while keeping identity verification, e-commerce transactions and other operations simple.

Treebox Solutions is a Singapore-based company that describes itself as a leading secure mobile communications specialist in Asia-Pacific. Aimed at the proliferation of free and unsecure messaging apps, that threaten enterprise security, Treebox Solutions developed its flagship solution, OnTalk®. OnTalk® is a secure Voice-Over-IP and instant messaging solution that protects enterprise voice calls, conference calls, instant messages and attachments. The company serves financial institutions, government and military agencies, education institutes, and healthcare sectors worldwide.

The mobile devices we carry have become like a small virtual safe where we keep loads of sensitive and precious data, except, unlike a real safe, these devices are not secure and cyber criminals realise this. The vulnerability of mobile devices and apps present a high-growth area for startups worldwide to come up with solutions that protect users from cyber criminals.