With hacking, phishing scams, viruses, malware and the leaking of personal and corporate information in the headlines almost on a daily basis, it’s a relief to see that the mobile industry is starting to make inroads into offering the same level of safety and security on smartphones that we are used to on our PCs.
When I stopped to think about it, the amount of private information I have stored on my smartphone means it is really a mini-computer that I carry around with me. Not only personal data, but access to files saved in the cloud, email and social networking applications. If my smartphone fell into the wrong hands, it really would be a disaster, both from a professional point of view and a personal one.
One of the companies building safety and security for smartphones from the ground up – rather than transplanting desktop services onto the handset – is Cape Town and London-based Mobiflock. The company’s first service is a child safety/parental control app, which sits on the handset quietly filtering activity and, depending on the security levels chosen, blocking dangerous actions such as access to inappropriate websites, contact with unknown people, or indeed, a known cyber-bully, or using a phone late at night. Parents use a web-based dashboard to set the security levels and alerts, and also to get an idea of how their child is using their phone.
The intention says Mobiflock, is to educate parents about growing up as a digital native, so that they can help and guide their children to manage their digital lifestyles themselves. There is no denying that digital communication is here to stay, and that to succeed, kids need to be comfortable and confident with technology.
The Mobiflock parental control service is currently in beta for Nokia Symbian and Android phones, with other operating systems to follow. Next on the agenda for the company is a phone management service for older children and adults: this includes personal safety features such as locating a lost phone and even deleting the data if the phone is stolen or lost for good. Location services are key to the enterprise version of the service Mobiflock is working on, which starts getting very interesting for employers with mobile workforces.
Latest stats from research house Canalys say that globally, the smartphone market grew 73 percent year-on-year, with more than 107.7 million smartphones shipped in the second quarter of this year. Unlike the PC world, the smartphone environment is a highly fragmented one, with a range of operating systems, device manufacturers and capabilities.
In addition, built in functionality such as GPS, cameras and accelerometers give smartphone users access to a totally different range of features and capabilities. Despite this fragmentation, it is likely that criminals and hackers will start focusing their attentions on the growing smartphone user base. Companies like Mobiflock will have their work cut out keeping one step ahead of these threats.