Treading softly, diving deeper into mobile malware

In the perfect storm created by BYOD, Wedge Networks Inc. says it’s found the best place to stop mobile malware from pouring into your network: the cloud.

On Tuesday, the Calgary-based network security firm released the Mobile Security Module, a cloud-based, “zero device footprint” platform that relies heavily on intelligence to pre-empt threats targeting mobile devices at the network transport layer.

With attacks coming from multiple sources — including social media sites, app stores and SMS messages — the cross-protocol/cross-session platform was designed to be an improvement on device-based security systems, stopping malware before it hits devices and not intefering with existing on-premise systems, the company says.
The Mobile Security Module is “very, very accurate” because it doesn’t just scan the characteristics of traffic on a network, said Husam Kinawi, chief scientist at Wedge Networks, but also scans traffic payload.
“We go through the traffic itself,” Kinawi said, “scanning the objects, scanning it in-depth and scanning it against one of the best mobile threat databases out there.”
This database is built on threat data coming from many different sources, he added. One of the product’s main features is its ability to “fingerprint” content as malicious or suspicious sooner, before signature providers do, offering a sort of interim protection regime. “We provide this kind of coverage until the signature providers can catch up to us,” Kinawi said.
As well, if one of its clients, such as a telco, notices content it doesn’t want on its network, like SMS message thats look “spammy,” it can work more quickly to shut them out, he said. “They can basically develop the signatures for it immediately for all the appliances they have deployed from us.”
Another key feature in the Mobile Security Module is its self-updating and self-management capabilities, Kinawi said, as well as its easy integration with existing security systems. Companies can run it alongside control and management platforms they’ve put in place for securing employee devices.
Rick Holland, a senior security analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said cloud-based security platforms have the advantage of being able to consolidate data from many different sources, which allows them to better characterize threats. The service providers, telcos and other large enterprises using them can derive insights on these threats by tapping into their entire user base, he said.
This kind of intelligence gathering and analysis, he said, works better than “just the signature-based protection that we’ve used and failed with in the past.”
Also important to consider are the threats lurking on social media sites, as the Mobile Security Module does, which he calls a “very, very significant attack vector.”
Holland said the launch of the product will build upon Wedge Networks’ the wealth of information the company already possesses and will be able to be continuously improved as time goes on.
“Because they have such a footprint in service providers’ networks they’ve seen very large amounts of customers and large amounts of data.”

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