As mobile devices quickly become synonymous with a second computer (or even primary computer in some scenarios), the need for security is greater than ever. Samsung agrees with this ideology, and has teamed up with security firm Lookout to place antivirus protection on all of their new Android smartphones.
Lookout's technology will be integrated into Samsung's Knox security software, and is targeting business professionals who share the same device for both personal and work use. Lookout will supposedly bring real-time, cloud-based scanning to the platform, helping to eliminate threats that stem from email attachments, file-sharing services and internet browsers.
Although Samsung didn’t directly criticize Android’s built-in security offerings, their decision insinuates you can't entirely rely on the open source OS. According to Chicago cyber-security firm Trustwave Holdings Inc., approximately 200,000 pieces of malware were found on the Google platform in 2012, nearly 50,000 more than the previous year.
Security specialists point to Android fragmentation as the source of the problem. Older versions of the Android OS are non-compatible with the new security updates provided by Google, leaving them vulnerable to attack. The Google Play marketplace has also been criticized for its lax security measures and inability to effectively screen for harmful applications.
Despite these concerns, Google is adamant that the problem is being overblown. “There’s not really a significant amount of risk that users are being exposed to,” explained Android’s security engineer, Adrian Ludwig, “It’s also, frankly, nothing like the risks they accept in their daily lives.”
It’s also important to note that there are vast differences between deploying antivirus software on a desktop computer to that of a smartphone. For one, mobile devices are often scolded for their poor battery life; a situation that is made even worse by constantly checking-in to the security firm's servers. Furthermore, most mobile operating systems don’t provide unrestricted access to system files in the way that traditional computers do.
It'll be interesting to see how Lookout plans to overcome these barriers, and if their software provides any formidable defense against potential malware attacks.