Sophos Updates Mobile Security Application for Android Devices

The Mobile Security platform also integrates into the company’s flagship mobile device management and security solution, Sophos Mobile Control.

Data loss and threat prevention specialist Sophos introduced the latest version of its security app for Google Android devices, Sophos Mobile Security, which is offered for free in its standalone version at the online Google Play store.

As part of the upgrade, the platform now includes spam filter capabilities for text messages and calls. The filter rules can block specific phone numbers and calls with a hidden caller ID, as well as text messages with potential malicious URLs. Blocked calls and text messages are logged in the Quarantine folder, where they can be restored as needed. Every incoming call or text message is scanned by the app’s Spam Protection feature and the active filter rules are applied successively.

The Mobile Security platform also integrates into the company’s flagship mobile device management and security solution, Sophos Mobile Control, providing full administrator management and compliance enforcement. Mobile Control only allows devices compliant with an organization’s policies to access corporate email and data, and has the ability to allow IT departments to remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices.

“People trust their personal devices, but security requires vigilance,” Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at IT analytics firm 451 Research, said in a statement. “Gone are the days when hackers merely distributed malware via app stores; these days, consumers are seeing growth in text spam and malicious URLs sent directly to their phones. And this growth makes mobile security offerings that filter out the noise of unwanted messages all the more important, especially as smartphones are increasingly the primary device for everyday use.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, about 60 percent of mobile phone users have received at least one or more spam text messages during the past year, with about 15 percent clicking on the link included in the message.

The Android platform is the world’s most popular smartphone operating system (OS), and according to comScore, it claims more than 50 percent of the market. With that kind of market penetration—not to mention OS fragmentation--Android is becoming an increasingly popular target for malware and SMiShing (SMS phishing).

Security firm Symantec’s most recent Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) indicated that consumers remain vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, particularly on the Android mobile OS. Android's market share, its open platform and the multiple distribution methods available to distribute malicious apps make it what Symantec called the "go-to platform" for attackers.

“Even with legal crackdown on mobile spammers, SMS spam and SMiShing continue to grow at a rapid pace, as there are billions of mobile phone subscribers who use text messaging. And more spam means greater annoyance and risk to consumers, as many people trust messages that come directly to their phones or don’t necessarily think about what links they’re actually clicking,” Thomas Lippert, product management director of Sophos, said in a statement. “The latest version of Mobile Security allows users to easily prevent the onset of SMiShing.”