Never mind the malware - here's Google Android

Opinion by Dan Raywood

If you believe its critics, Android is about the worst thing to hit the mobile space since the emergence of the smartphone.

If you believe its critics, Android is about the worst thing to hit the mobile space since the emergence of the smartphone.

It has been criticised for the ability to Trojanise applications; its apps are apparently not filtered as stringently as Apple's, and it is open source so inherently unsafe. However, be prepared, as this could mark 2012's mobile wave.

Stephen Midgley, vice-president of global marketing at Absolute Software, says Android and the forthcoming Windows Phone will be taken up by users who have held off on buying Apple devices.

“Many developers are concerned about the open nature of Android, but the reality is that people develop in-house apps,” he says.

So if the development and filtering process of Android apps is a much easier process, could it become easier to build in-house apps for Android, therefore making Android the smartphone device of choice for next year?

This week saw new mobile management software launched by two security vendors.

MobileIron launched version 4.5 of its device management software to offer security on a wide set of Android devices.

With support now added for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and technology partnerships with Android leaders Samsung and Cisco, MobileIron gives enterprise IT departments the most complete Android security platform.

Features of MobileIron 4.5 include encryption enforcement for data at rest on Samsung GALAXY devices, as well as those devices running Android 3.0 and above, secure SSL VPN connectivity for data in motion via an integration with Cisco AnyConnect, and the ability to disable camera, WiFi and Bluetooth functions in high-security environments.

Ojas Rege, V-P of products at MobileIron, agrees that 2012 will see a massive influx of Android devices into the enterprise, and companies want to know they can count on enterprise-grade security across those devices.

Talking to SC Magazine, Rege said: “In 2012 there will be a main trend that will rapidly increase the take-up of Android: bring your own device (BYOD) policies. Companies are talking about it and users have Android devices so the mix at work looks like the mix at home. Users do not want to learn about the different ‘flavours' of Android, they want to get mobile device management and figure out what it is capable of.”

Also released this week was a mobile security product from Bitdefender, its first security product for the Android market.

According to the company, Bitdefender Mobile Security combines in-the-cloud technology with the company's threat database, with the result including features such as an Application Audit that keeps an eye on the permissions of installed applications, Anti-Theft, which allows users to track down a lost or stolen device, and Web Security, which alerts Android users to lurking threats such as phishing or malware on web pages.

Alexandru Balan, senior product manager at Bitdefender, said that following beta testing by 120,000 users, it is a product that lightens the load on both the device's battery and operating system.

“Security can be iron-clad and feather-light at the same time – Bitdefender Mobile Security proves it,” he said.

“The security is guaranteed by Bitdefender's years of experience on the front lines of the war against e-threats. At the same time, our in-the-cloud technology prevents battery strain, updates continuously and takes it easy on the operating system. Mobile security is, finally, truly mobile. Android device users can now be secure without having to constantly carry around their phone chargers.”

In a few weeks we will take a more concise look at what the security industry predicts to be major trends for 2012, and I expect Android to be one of the key pillars of the year. You can't say you weren't warned.

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