Smart phones the new security frontier: Kaspersky Lab

Russia-based Kaspersky Lab in what they are calling their 'Kung Fu Launch' spearheaded by movie star and philanthropist Jackie Chan

Absent-minded people who lose their smart phones have had a win and thieves who steal mobile devices have had another setback, with the Singapore launch of a new mobile phone security product.

Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, number four on the world's list of top digital security providers based on sales, has unveiled a new suite of products, in what they are calling their 'Kung Fu Launch' spearheaded by movie star and philanthropist Jackie Chan who will start appearing, from today, on television advertisements promoting the new offerings.

Kaspersky Lab has some 1,700 employees across the globe and 250 million users. They say they carry out 200,000 virus signature updates ever hour, such is the prolific rate of black hat production, not to mention Trojans, spyware, adware, malware, spam and hacker attacks.

With new malware being detected every two seconds, and tens of thousands of new malicious programmes created every day, Kaspersky Lab says cyber criminals are more rampant than ever and are turning cyber crime into a multi-million-dollar industry.

As part of an Asia rollout, the company has launched Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2010 and Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 (which, among other things, protects against cyber crime identity theft) and Kaspersky Mobile Security 8.0.

Innovative security network

Gun Suk Ling, managing director of Kaspersky Lab for Southeast Asia, said the new version 2010 products "leverage the innovative Kaspersky Security Network that uses information from millions of users to dramatically reduce response time to new threats and replenish reputation databases with the most up-to-date information about clean and infected files".

"Every day, tens of thousands of new worms, Trojans and viruses are created and distributed in a vast network housed by computers of unwary users," said Gun. Revolutionising IT security is absolutely paramount. And thankfully, Kaspersky Lab is here to change that game."

Kaspersky Lab's product manager mobile solutions, Victor Dronov, in Singapore from Moscow, said smart phones are the new digital security frontier, as the likes of Blackberrys, iPhones and other sophisticated handheld devices increasingly become 'must have' business tools.

Kaspersky Mobile Security 8.0, launched for the first time in Singapore, protects smart phone users from theft or loss, annoying calls and messages (so-called 'voice spam' and 'SMS spam'), includes message encryption, anti-virus and firewall protection, while also enabling the location of lost phones to be displayed on a map.

The product's 'SMS-Find' feature can send an SMS with a password to the lost device and generate a link to Google Maps (as soon as a GPS connection is established) with the exact coordinates of the phone's smart phone's location.

This product was created in May, released firstly in the US and Europe and now in Southeast Asia. Among its features include the ability to remotely block the device and erase all the data. It has 'SIM watch' which monitors the SIM card, and if it is removed, the device gets automatically blocked and the owner secretly gets sent the new number of the device.

Barcelona conference release

"In February 2010, at the mobile conference in Barcelona, the world's major mobile device event, we will be releasing a new version which is even better," Dronov said.

"Some companies may be making good anti-theft products or good encryption products for mobile phones, but none of them have the complete solution covering all the potential risks--that's what makes us different from others.

"We are protecting not only the phone but the user privacy and personal data that is inside the device. Mobile devices have so much information about everyone, about our private lives, that's what we protect with this mobile security product."

Comfortable with Simbian smart phones including Nokia and Samsung, it works on all Windows Mobile devices such as HTCs and mobiles from other vendors. A version for Blackberry and Android mobiles is expected to be released next year and they say "someday we will have a version for iPhones too".

"This is a very young market; a very young field," Dronov said. "Everybody knows that PCs must be protected and that you shouldn't take risky action on the Internet, but for mobiles, people are mostly unaware of the potential risks so we are working to protect people and make them aware of the dangers when using their mobile."

Kaspersky for big business

Some 58 per cent of Kasperky's business comes from the consumer spectrum, but one-third is generated by enterprises and big business.

There is also the Kaspersky Mobile Security Enterprise edition, targeted at corporates which can be centrally deployed and managed. Some government organisations in the UK have already deployed this new system.

"One system administrator from one point can manage hundreds of thousands of devices and understand the status of protection and perform some action, for example, when a device is lost and someone reports it, the device can be remotely locked," Dronov said.

"The market is very young but enterprises are starting to pay attention to this field and are considering different options to protect their mobile users."

He acknowledged that many black hat individuals and organisations originate from Russia, but said his country was not the worst.

"We are not the 'champions'. If you look at the statistics, the majority of malware and mobileware comes from China," Dronov said.

His advice to smart phone users: do not run unknown applications even if they appear to come from known people.

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