Android Security Roundup: Curious Link Between Risky Lifestyles and Cellphone Use, Threats to your Mobile Backups, and More

Security

Android SecuredThis week’s collection of stories in Android Secured includes two that highlight risks to mobile data from somewhat unexpected quarters and one about a fascinating and unexpected correlation between lifestyle choices and cellphone use.

Our story titled How Safe Is Your Mobile Data is based on a report from Palo Alto Networks about the security of mobile data backups. Apparently it doesn’t matter how secure your mobile phone is or what security controls you have on it for protecting data. If the data is not backed up securely when you sync your phone with a desktop or notebook, thieves can still get at it pretty easily without ever having to touch your phone. This is especially an issue for iPhone users, but Android and BlackBerry users are not completely immune from it either. For iPhone users, the problem has to do with how iOS stores data from the device in unencrypted files and in a specific, pre-determined location when backing it up to a desktop or notebook computer.

The other story about unlikely threats to mobile data, Majority of Mobile Apps Have Lousy Encryption, is about a research report from Veracode on the dangers posed to mobile data by poorly encrypted apps. Many mobile apps these days tout the ability to encrypt sensitive data, which of course is a good thing. The problem however is that a vast majority (think over 80% of Android and iOS apps) don’t do a particularly good job of it. Mistakes like insufficient entropy, weak certificate validation and storing information in clear text make these apps far less secure than users might assume, according to Veracode.

risky-smartphoneCheck out Better Get a Landline. People in Wireless-Only Homes Have Riskier Lifestyles, CDC Says if you want to know what the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks about people who live in cellphone-only households. The CDC has been tracking declining landline use in the US to see if there’s any correlation between lifestyle choices and the type of phone you have at home. And boy, did they ever find a link. Apparently, people who live in wireless-only homes tend to indulge far more in risky choices like binge drinking, smoking and being uninsured than those who live in households with landlines.

Other stories this week that are worth a look include the following:

Safe Browsing Now Available By Default On Chrome For Android

smartphone-security-patchYears after making it available on desktop browsers, Google has finally made its Safe Browsing technology available by default on Chrome for Android. What that means is that Android users browsing the Web using Chrome will now get security alerts when they attempt to access a website that Google thinks might be serving up malware or other unwanted software.

Google Fixes Five Critical Vulnerabilities With December Security Updates

Google’s monthly security updates for Android included fixes for five critical vulnerabilities, including one that would have allowed an attacker to so totally own a system that the only way to recover the system would be to reinstall the operating system.

First Responders Can Use Personal Devices On Public Safety Broadband Network

Firefighters and other first responders will be allowed to use their own smartphones and tablet computers on the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN). The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), which is building the network, is currently developing a BYOD policy that, from its description at least, appears to adhere to all recommended best practices.

Learn how to take the pain out of securing business data on your employees’ Android devices. Join Google and BlackBerry at a free, half-day seminar, Bring Android to Work with BlackBerry Software, hosted at Google offices in Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York City.

About Jaikumar Vijayan

Vijayan is a freelance journalist and technology content writing specialist with 20+ years of award-winning experience in IT trade journalism. He is a former Senior Editor at Computerworld Inc.and is a frequent contributor to Christian Science Monitor Passcode, Computerworld, Dark Reading, eWEEK and other publications. Vijayan is the author of BlackBerry's "The Definitive Guide to Mobile Security: Strategies and Tactics for Business & IT Decisionmakers" e-book on mobile security and an author of security white papers for the SANS Institute.

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