The Average Number of Mobile Apps per Phone is 41 and Growing – The Malware Threat

Reading the study below from Nielsen re mobile apps is a bit scary when you consider the opportunity for malware to affect your phone. 41 apps per phone and growing is extraordinary. I’d be surprised if there are more than 15 or 20 apps per PC and that number is probably stagnant. Nielsen might have also checked on the source of the apps. On a PC the user is likely to know the software vendor before installing the app. I doubt with 41 apps that smartphone users know the reputation of the vendors. With the explosion of appstores including the entrance of Microsoft with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, it will be hard for the stores to protect users from malware. It is made more difficult because the smartphone app could be safe when installed but a few days later via the update mechanism which app store vendors cannot police, the legit app can become malicious.

The sheer number of apps along with the source of the apps is daunting from a malware perspective. Add in the 24 hour a day broadcasting of the smartphone users location and the opportunity for bad guys to exploit you via the phone will be a big problem. Combating mobile malware will be also be a large opportunity.

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From http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/?p=31891

State of the Appnation – A Year of Change and Growth in U.S. Smartphones

May 16, 2012

Roughly a year ago when we summarized the state of smartphones at the Appnation conference, less than 40 percent of mobile subscribers in the U.S. had smartphones. Today, one in two mobile subscribers has a smartphone and that figure is moving steadily upwards. By most measures, it has been the year of the App once again, driven mostly by the rise of Android and iOS users who have more than doubled in a year and account for 88 percent of those who have downloaded an app in the past 30 days. In just a year, the average number of apps per smartphone has jumped 28 percent, from 32 apps to 41. Not only is the 2012 smartphone owner downloading more apps, they are increasingly spending more time using them vs. using the mobile web — about 10 percent more than last year.

Some things haven’t changed, however. The Top Five Apps continue to be Facebook, YouTube, Android Market, Google Search, and Gmail. And smartphone owners spend just about the same amount of time on apps each day (37 minutes a day in 2011 compared to 39 minutes today). Finally, privacy continues to be a concern with the vast majority (70% in 2011 and 73% in 2012) expressing concern over personal data collection and 55 percent wary of sharing information about their location via smartphone apps.

appnation-what-has-changed

© 2012 The Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved.

Cybersecurity/Privacy Predictions for 2012

Now that I am closing my consulting business and looking for my next great adventure I wanted to get advice from cybersec, privacy, and business leaders. I called this this “thought leader 2011 tour.” I wanted to know the issues that we’d be dealing with in the next year. Here are some common themes I heard:

a)     Big data – Online activities that leave easy-to-follow digital footprints which provide a rich profile of what we buy, where we go, who are our friends, and who we are. Hadoop and advanced analytics can drive innovation. Personal data is more valuable than gold. What is the appropriate balance between privacy and innovation?

b)     Data warehouse in your pocket – Smartphones can collect a treasure trove of data. Where you are, who are your friends, your speech, your shopping list, your health and diet data, etc. A smartphone is always with us and is always on. It is hard for end users to control their mobile privacy by deleting cookies or blocking unique ID’s identifying a specific phone. Protecting this info from bad guys and unscrupulous marketers will be of great concern in the future.

c)      The “personalized attack” – As the amount of personal info online grows it provides bad guys with the information they need to personalize an attack. This includes using info to guess your password reset question (“what is your favorite food”) or sending an email with malicious content from a friend or co-workers e-mail address. Personalizing the attack increases the effectiveness.

d)     Be prepared for the inevitable breach

e)     The merger of cybersecurity and privacy – In the past these organizations typically did not work closely. There needs to be a tight coupling to ensure that the right data is being collected and used as well as ensuring that it is protected. Protecting the “corporate gold” is a difficult task requiring collaboration.