In 2011, NQ Mobile, China’s biggest mobile phone security company, found some 25,000 pieces of malware targeted at mobile devices. In 2012, it discovered more than 65,000. A dramatic increase. Terrifying, too, when you think about how prominent a role smartphones play in our lives these days. They’re little storehouses of personal information, full of our most sensitive data: Photos, personal and business messages, voicemails, even financial information for those who use them to make stock trades or bank transactions. Unprotected, they’re at risk. And for NQ Mobile, that risk is a business model.
“Given what we believe is going to happen in mobile in the next few years, we’re certain the need for security on our devices is going to become much more important,” said NQ Mobile CEO Omar Khan, a former executive at Samsung and Motorola, in an interview at D: Dive Into Mobile. “The No. 1 concern for most CIOs these days is security and mobile device management.”
More so, because security isn’t always a top priority for their employees — or for consumers in general.
“We recently conducted a survey,” Kahn said. “And one of the questions we asked was, ‘Do you have security enabled on your mobile device.’ I think 53 percent of consumers answered that they did. But we know statistically that’s not true.”
And for those consumers for whom it really is true, the security precautions they’ve taken might not be as secure as they believe.
“Consumers misinterpret things like lock-screen codes as foolproof security, but they’re not,” Kahn said, adding that a pattern of fingerprints on someone’s phone screen is potentially enough to threaten the security of their device.
And that needs to change. “We really need to develop a broader awareness around mobile device security,” Kahn said. With malicious hackers increasingly targeting our smartphones, the stakes here are simply too high not to.
“Think about the types of information we carry — photos, geolocation data, passwords, credit card information,” said Kahn. “We have very intimate relationships with our smartphones.”
And the sooner more people realize that, the better — for consumers, and for NQ Mobile, as well. Said Kahn, “Sometimes we joke that we’re the largest mobile security company in the world, and no one’s heard of us.”