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Current state of mobile security

NQ Mobile Inc. (NYSE: NQ) is a leading global provider of mobile Internet services and mobile security pioneer, with proven competency to acquire, engage, and monetize customers globally. NQ Mobile’s portfolio includes mobile security and mobile games & advertising for consumers and consulting, mobile platforms and mobility services for enterprises. As of March 2013, NQ Mobile’s global user base numbered 327 million registered user accounts through its consumer mobile security business, 77 million registered user accounts through its mobile games & advertising business and over 1,250 enterprise customers. NQ Mobile maintains dual headquarters in Dallas, Texas, USA and Beijing, China.

Rake Narang: What is the current state of mobile security?

Gavin Kim: Mobile security is a real concern, and it’s one about which consumers – especially Western consumers – still have a certain naiveté. In the first half of 2013 alone, we estimate 21 million mobile devices were infected, and expect that number to keep climbing. In fact, from January to July this year, NQ Mobile identified more than 51,000 new threats – that’s 78% of the total found in 2012.

The proliferation of inexpensive devices coupled with the low-cost, unlimited data plans means consumers are downloading more apps, surfing the web more often, and increasingly using social media forms of communications. From a malware developer’s perspective, this means more opportunities and more channels to push out malware. Cybercriminals will always go where the money is, so we expect to see more infections in markets outside of China and Eastern Europe, simply because the financial rewards are greater.

We’re also seeing increasingly creative approaches to malware distribution including social engineering. Android remains the #1 target for attacks, and the three top methods of delivery are app repackaging (concealing malicious malware in a seemingly legitimate app), malicious URLs (Fake URLs masquerading as legitimate URLs to inflict damage or gather personal information) and “smishing” (information phishing by way of SMS messages).

The time to be complacent is over. We all need to start safeguarding our mobile devices and data with the same diligence we do our PCs.

About Gavin Kim

Rake Narang: What do you see as the biggest threats to mobile users' safety?

Gavin Kim: Companies like NQ Mobile can build apps and establish other protective measures to try to stem the tide of mobile threats, but without awareness and action from both consumers and enterprises, there will continue to be security gaps and people who want to exploit them.

From a consumer perspective, we need to build awareness of the dangers posed by rogue applications and URLs and help people understand that there are risks in doing something as simple as connecting to a random WiFi network. We also need to encourage greater personal responsibility when it comes to issues of data privacy and even phone theft. It’s astonishing that many consumers still don’t take the small step of using a passcode on their device. You don’t need to be a malware developer to steal personal information from a device that’s left completely open for anyone to access.

For enterprises, we need to get much more serious about establishing BYOD policies that are a win-win for both themselves and their employees. In too many cases, companies’ device-management strategies consist completely of disabling device functionality. Instead, there needs to be a seamless integration of mobile devices within existing IT policies that incorporates the entire device lifecycle. This “Post-MDM” environment will enable businesses to meet the demands of their anytime and anywhere workforces to improve production efficiency, reduce IT management expenses while taking full advantage of BYOD.

Rake Narang: Do you think application developers and/ or wireless carriers are doing enough to protect consumers from mobile malware?

Gavin Kim: Some operators are making mobile security a bigger part of their agenda. For example, Cricket Wireless, US Cellular, Verizon and T-Mobile are offering their subscribers mobile security, and they are taking strides to ensure that the services that they support are bulletproof.

And generally, developers are showing more concern about security and privacy as they develop and deploy applications. Banks not already using two-factor authentication are moving in that direction, and even Google offers that option to users who want the extra assurance.

But this is not specifically a developer issue or a carrier problem. It is an industry problem, and it is one that technology alone it isn’t capable of completely solving. There’s also the issue of social engineering – e.g., answering a call from someone asking for your social security number, receiving an email from a dear friend of yours asking you to click a link, getting a text message with a coupon or a website link, installing an application that was not from a well-managed application store, or even downloading attachments on to your device – these are all risky behaviors. And while mobile security applications like NQ Mobile Security go a long way to managing safe browsing, SMS spam, phishing, smishing, malware detection and inoculation, so long as people remain unaware, the risk and opportunity is there for people to be exploited.

Rake Narang: What developments in wireless technology do you see becoming available to consumers in the not-so-distant future?

Gavin Kim: Wireless technology will continue evolving along established trajectories, like we can expect faster CPUs and power efficient processing cores, and “more” and “bigger” will continue to be “better.” We are already seeing incredible choice at the top end of the market, with bigger displays, more horsepower, more memory, etc., but I am especially excited to see these same innovations and wireless capabilities as prices are driven down and more people are able to access them.

We will also see continued acceptance of intelligent software to help operators and consumers take better advantage of wifi off-load as well as for management and control of data for applications on our devices. We will also see more intelligent sensors making their way to devices – for security, proximity, temperature, health, etc. And, we’ll see emerging devices that fill more niche markets.

I’m excited to see the impact of wireless technology on the health sector and consumer devices that help us keep tabs on sleep habits, exercise, food consumption, heartbeat, etc. We should also see some really interesting experiences emerge as devices begin to communicate, integrate, and work with one another – smartphones talking to your car talking to your home, your TV, your HVAC equipment, or even your security system, and then communicating and coordinating with you and your family.

One area in which I personally hope we see more innovation is battery technology, specifically in packaging and efficiency. Despite amazing progress in the broader technology market, battery technology hasn’t kept pace.

Company: NQ Mobile
4514 Travis Street Suite 200 Dallas, TX 75205-4186 U.S.A.

Founded in: 2005
CEO: co-CEOs Omar Khan and Dr. Henry Lin
Public or Private: Public
Head Office in Country: Dual HQs in Beijing and Dallas
Products and Services: Mobile internet services (Consumer mobile apps: NQ Mobile Security, NQ Mobile Vault, NQ Family Guardian; Enterprise mobile device management: NQSky; Consumer gaming and advertising: FL Mobile)

Company’s Goals: NQ Mobile is dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of all of our mobile experiences and enabling users to confidently take advantage of all the world’s increasingly sophisticated mobile devices and services.
Key Words: Mobile Security, Mobile Device Management, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Advertising
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