Friday, July 19, 2013

Mobile Security Apps Perform Dismally Against Spyware

via Josh Kirschner at Techlicious...
Mobile spyware can have a devastating effect on your life; the constant fear that a spouse, significant other or even employer is following your every move, knows everything about your life and has completely removed any vestige of privacy...

And spyware is not as rare as you may think. According to mobile security company Lookout, .24% of Android phones they scanned in the U.S. had surveillance-ware installed intended to target a specific individual. Sophos reports a similar .2% infection rate from spyware. If those numbers hold true for Android users in general, that would mean tens of thousands could be infected.

I set out to test the leading Android anti-malware vendors to see how they fared at protecting us against the threat of spyware...

The results, generally speaking, were dismal. Of twelve products I tested, none was able to detect more than two-thirds of the samples. Many missed half or more of the spyware apps. And, surprisingly, the potential spyware apps least likely to be detected were those widely available in Google Play. (more)

Josh did an excellent job researching this topic and we thank him for publicly exposing the flaws. 

Now, what can be done about really detecting spyware?

Murray Associates was approached by two clients several years ago who had come to the same conclusion as Josh via their own research. They asked us to develop a solution – based on the following conditions:
  1. The solution must make quick and reasonable spyware evaluations. 
  2. No special forensic tools should be required. 
  3. No special skills should be necessary.
  4. No assistance should be necessary once the initial training is over. The phone owner must be able to conduct the test him- or herself—anytime, anyplace.
  5. Advancements in spyware software and cell phone hardware should not render the test ineffective.

The results of this project are published in the book, "Is My Cell Phone Bugged?", and are used in SpyWarn, a unique Android spyware detection app.