ATandT Partners With Juniper Networks for Mobile Security Platform

Juniper Networks will build a mobile security platform for AT&T to protect its wireless customers from mobile malware and from the negative consequences of having their devices lost or stolen.

AT&T customers will soon be able to take advantage of a mobile security platform designed to protect the data on their devices in case it ever gets lost or stolen, as well as from malware threats.

AT&T has partnered with Juniper Networks to help customers protect their mobile devices against security threats, the telecommunications company said Aug. 11. The new mobile security platform will be available for government and enterprise customers later this year, with a version for consumers expected in 2012, the company said. Pricing information was not yet available.

The AT&T Mobile Security application will be based on Junos Pulse from Juniper Networks and will provide consumers and organizations with antivirus and anti-malware software and application monitoring and control tools, according to AT&T. Businesses will also be able to use the application to maintain compliance and enforce security policies.

"Mobile security is the 'next frontier' for our continued effort to mitigate cyber-threats and to help protect our customers' information," said Ed Amoroso, chief security officer of AT&T.

As users increasingly rely on their mobile devices to purchase something, take care of online banking and surf the Web, the opportunity for cyber-attacks are also increasing. Android handset users are 2.5 times more likely to be affected by malware today than they were six months ago, Lookout Mobile Security found in its new 2011 Mobile Threat report released earlier this month. The report also estimated that three out of 10 Android owners are likely to encounter a Web-based threat on their device each year.

Android is not the only platform being targeted, as there is a mobile variant of the Zeus banking Trojan that goes after BlackBerry and Windows-based smartphones as well. iPhone users are just as vulnerable to social engineering tricks that redirect them to malicious scam Web portals as other users.

Mobile malware isn't the only threat facing users, considering that 36 percent of consumers either lost or had their phones stolen, according to a recent Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec.

Only four percent of smartphones and tablets in use are currently protected by third-party software from malware and other Web threats, according to Juniper Research.

The Juniper partnership is in line with the mobile security service John Stankey, the head of AT&T 's enterprise business division, hinted about in May. Stankey had discussed rolling out an AT&T wireless security service for consumers in 2012 as part of the company's mobile security strategy to manage and protect smartphones and customer information.

However, just having the stable architecture from Juniper would not be enough for mobile security, as there needs to be a strong research and development component to keep up with the evolving threats, Amoroso said.

"If you're playing football and you line up the same defense every play for every season, someone is going to catch on" and it will be a lot less effective, said Amoroso, noting the company had recently opened a R&D facility in New York City.

AT&T is not the only wireless carrier worried about its mobile users. Sprint said Aug. 10 that it will provide customers with "easy access" to McAfee Mobile Security and McAfee Family Protection Android Edition apps to protect the data stored on their Android phones.

McAfee Mobile Security can track a lost or stolen device, back up important data, remotely lock and wipe the device in case it is lost, and provides anti-malware software to detect threats. Sprint announced a similar partnership with Lookout for the Lookout Mobile Security app for Android phones earlier this year. Sprint customers would find these apps under the "Sprint" tab in the Android Market and from the Sprint Zone.

Verizon also promotes the Lookout app to its Verizon Wireless customers.