What Does the Future of Mobile Look Like? Here’s a Peek

April 5, 2012

Business insider just hosted their Future of Mobile conference, and kicked it off by creating a presentation of current mobile trends. It’s pretty cool and worth not only looking through, but also pondering the implications for your own mobile use as well as that of whatever company you work for.

Among the stats:

  • In 2011, the number of smartphones sold exceeded the number of PC’s sold but that’s just the tip of the iceberg because….
  • Off all the mobile device users, only 835 million are smartphone users, whereas 5.6 Billion are still on ‘dumb phones’.
  • Mobile apps are now a ~10 billion dollar market – growing at 100% a year.
  • It took AOL 9 years to get 1 million users. It took Facebook 9 months. But it only took the new “Draw Something” mobile app 9 days.  (NOTE: Draw something roared onto the mobile app scene to now be the #1 App in 79 countries, with more than 20 million downloads. It generates over $100,000 in revenue a day, and has more than 12 million users a day.

Take 5 minutes to flip through the deck and be awed by the sheer volumes represented.



Top Tips to Avoid Malicious Apps

November 28, 2011

17.7 billion mobile apps are estimated to be downloaded in 2011 (a 115% increase from 2010). By 2012, mobile apps are projected to generate more than $15 billion in app store revenues from end-users alone, according to “Forecast: Mobile Application Stores, Worldwide, 2008-2015,” by Gartner.

“As the application market continues to boom, users should be more cautious that they know what they’re installing,” said Lawrence Pingree, Gartner analyst. “For example, they should only install applications from trusted sources and ensure that permissions match up with the respective application’s core features. Anti-malware protection will also go a long way in helping to ensure the user’s mobile device has the latest protection.”

To help consumers stay safer when selecting mobile apps to download, McAfee has just released their Top Five Tips to Avoid Bad Apps.

These include:

  1. Although smartphone malware is remains a relatively low threat compared to malware targeting PCs; being aware that it exists is the first step toward protecting yourself and your data.
  2. Always research any app and its publisher and check the ratings before downloading – you’re safer if you install apps that are broadly used or are recommended by friends or colleagues.
  3. Purchase from a well-known reputable app store market. For Android users, avoid installation of non-market applications by de-selecting the “Unknown sources” option in the Applications Settings menu on your device. If the option is not listed, it means your mobile service provider has already done this for the user.
  4. When installing an app, pay attention to the list of permissions it wants to access the hardware and software on your device, like your contacts, camera and location. If it wants permissions for things the app doesn’t need, don’t install that app! For example, an alarm clock app shouldn’t need to access your contacts or have the ability to transmit that data from your device.
  5. Install antivirus software on your phone. Always install an antivirus program when you get a new mobile device – before you add any other apps.

“Maliciously modified apps have started to become more prevalent,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president, McAfee Labs. “Based on McAfee detections, we’ve seen approximately 200 malicious apps versus tens of thousands of good apps. However, with mobile devices becoming a targeted platform for malware, it’s becoming more common for cybercriminals to attempt to corrupt a legitimate app. The best advice for users is to be careful, protect the mobile device and the mobile apps that reside on the device.”

These are tips to live by.

To learn more about mobile threats, see my blogs It’s No Accident – Mobile Money and Mobile Malware Set to Go Big in 2011, McAfee Threat Predictions for 2011 – Mobile: Usage is rising in the workplace, and so will attacks, More Mobile Apps Caught Inappropriately Collecting User Info and Installing Malware and Twenty-Five New Malicious Apps on Android; 30,000 to 120,000 Users Affected.


FTC: Trample Children’s Privacy, and You’ll Pay the Price

August 31, 2011

The FTC has levied a $50k fine against the developer of such children’s apps as Zombie Duck Hunt, Truth or Dare and Cootie Catcher, Emily’s Girl World, Emily’s Dress Up and Emily’s Runway High Fashion, for collecting information from children without first gaining parental consent.

W3 Innovations was charged with collecting and storing children’s email addresses and allowing children to post personal information on public message boards, a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which requires parental consent for data collection about or from a child under the age of 13.

The apps found in violation of COPPA laws were marketed towards children in the Apple App store where more than 50,000 downloads were made before the FTC discovered the company was encouraging children to independently enter personal data through the games according to an article on digitaltrends.com. Additionally, the Emily apps encouraged children to email comments to “Emily” on the Emily blog.

Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the commission said in a statement, “The F.T.C.’s COPPA Rule requires parental notice and consent before collecting children’s personal information online, whether through a Web site or a mobile app. Companies must give parents the opportunity to make smart choices when it comes to their children’s sharing of information on smart phones.”

This marks the first mobile COPPA case the FTC has reviewed, and it is unlikely to be the last. While I wholly support the protection of children’s privacy and regulations around obtaining parental consent, the antiquated methods currently employed to gain this consent need some rethinking.

In an age of instant access, companies and parents must be able to exchange an information request and verifiable consent within moments or the experience for the child wanting to play a game is really poor.

Industry, it’s time to step up to better methods for authentication and approval, those who don’t will find their apps aren’t used.