Qualcomm Steps Up To Fight Android Malware And App Privacy Violations

The openness of Google’s Android operating system gives consumers lots of options for what they can put on their phones, but it also leaves users open to some nasty malware and apps that don’t exactly view user privacy as a top concern.

Mobile chipmaking giant Qualcomm is hoping to tamp down on some of these worries about the Android ecosystem with Snapdragon Smart Protect that it announced on Monday.

Smart Protect keeps tabs on how apps are behaving to look for any signs of maliciousness. If your phone screen is turned off, for example, yet the app is trying to send an SMS that could be a reason for concern and will alert the user.

The software only works for Android phones equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. (With the exception of Samsung’s latest phones, nearly every high-end phone uses Snapdragon processors.) It will first be available in Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon 820 chip due out in Android phones sometime next year.

Qualcomm isn’t developing the front-end experience for this. Instead, it’s partnering with antivirus software developers and phone makers to take advantage of the product. So far, three antivirus apps makers have signed up for Smart Protect: Lookout, AVG and Avast.

For the most part, mobile antivirus apps are sandboxed and aren’t able to get much of a view into what other apps are doing. Using Qualcomm’s APIs for Smart Protect, the antivirus app can get deeper access into the phone hardware and is able to pick up a wider range of application behavior.

Smart Protect’s behavioral analysis approach to fighting malware is designed to compliment what traditional antivirus software does. “The only way to have full visibility into a system is to go down in the technology stack and be very close to the hardware to see what’s happening,” said Asaf Ashkenazi, a director of product management at Qualcomm. “That’s something that only we can do.”

http://www.forbes.com/sites/aarontilley/2015/08/31/qualcomm-steps-up-to-fight-android-malware-and-app-privacy-violations/ By Aaron Tilley ,


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