M1 unveils new service to detect and deal with mobile malware

M1 unveils new service to detect and deal with mobile malware

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File photo of a youth in Singapore using a mobile phone. (Photo: Francine Lim)

SINGAPORE: Local telecom operator M1 on Monday (Sep 25) unveiled a new service to help smartphone users protect their devices against malware.

In a threat report for the first half of 2017 released last week, IT security software company Trend Micro said more than 47 million malicious mobile apps were downloaded by users in Asia Pacific. In comparison, users in Europe, Middle East and Africa downloaded 30 million such apps and the numbers are even lower in North America (8 million) and Latin America (6 million), the report said. 

As such, M1 is offering its network-based mobile malware detection solution, called Mobile Guard, to detect malicious activity on a phone and notify the user of suspicious activities "within 30 seconds to a minute", said Mr Alex Tan, chief innovation officer at M1, during a media briefing ahead of the launch.  

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A screengrab of the SMS notification when a mobile malware is detected. (Image: M1)

Unlike existing antivirus software for mobile devices, Mr Tan said M1's Mobile Guard is not a reactive solution in that it only scans the phone at a scheduled time or when the user remembers to conduct a scan.

Rather, it includes network detection capabilities through Nokia's NetGuard Endpoint Security, which monitors the mobile network for abnormal activities from the user's account, he explained.

Abnormal network activity is matched against a global repository of identified threat signatures, both on Nokia's database as well as partner networks.

For instance, if the user downloads an app and gives it access to his contact list and photos, allowing the software to extract and send the details to an external server possibly belonging to a hacker, an SMS will be sent to the user. The SMS will also include a link on how to remove the malware, using the bundled Trend Micro mobile security app, Mr Tan said. 

This network detection feature is unlike offerings such as Singtel's Zone Alarm solution using cybersecurity company Check Point's technology, he noted.

Additionally, the Web portal for the service allows the user to view possible threats not just to his device, but those of phone devices linked to the same account. 

"This allows those with kids under the same account, for example, to know if their children are installing apps with malware," Mr Tan said. 

Mobile Guard is available to M1 customers for S$2 a month, and this includes a licence key for the Trend Micro antivirus software for one device.

The detection and remedy capabilities are available for Android-based phone users, while only the detection capability is available for iOS devices as the Trend Micro app is not available on the platform, the company added.

Source: CNA/kk