Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The latest developments on security at the Mobile World Congress 2014

In the pocket, in the purse, on the table... wherever it is, you're very close to your mobile phone for sure. This gizmo is invaluable for many people. And that is not for the device itself, but for all that it allows them to do and how much information they have stored on it.

Therefore, the mobile industry has increasingly grown for years. The Mobile World Congress being held in Barcelona these days is its best showcase. There they have been presented some developments that reflect the growing concern for security. For example, the new Samsung Galaxy S5 introduces biometric technology for performing critical operations such as payments or user profile protection through your fingerprint.

Meanwhile, Geeksphone and Silent Circle have presented BlackPhone, a mobile phone specially focused on security and privacy protection. It implements an Android-based operating system, combined with tools for anonymous searches, private browsing, VPN by Disconnect.me or secure file storage by SpiderOak.

Nevertheless these devices can hardly avoid spam campaigns in Whatsapp, for instance. According to firm Malcovery Security we will witness an increase in malicious campaigns on this application in the next months, after acquisition of Whatsapp by Facebook. Surely, more criminals will add to the three groups of spammers that already operate through the messaging app. Its current 450 million users and all those who are coming to the platform will have to face that threat. In fact, in Barcelona, the Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said that their objective for Whatsapp is to rise its user base up to 1 billion over the next 5 years.

If Facebook paid 19,000 million for an app like Whatsapp, it is clear that instant messaging is on the crest of the wave. And companies like WhisperSystems are trying to break into this market, even if they have to modify their existing apps for that. In fact, WhisperSystems have turned their SMS encryption tool TextSecure into an IM app that emphasizes precisely one of the weaknesses of Whatsapp: the encryption of communications.

In any case, despite all the developments released at the Mobile World Congress this year, there is still a long way to go in terms of security. If you don’t think so, you can ask to the victims of a banking trojan that is sweeping the Middle East. Attackers have used a mobile botnet to send at least 27,000 SMS intended to infect users and steal their one-time-passwords (OTP) which they use to validate their banking transactions.


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