McAfee Mobile Security gets additional privacy features

McAfee announced enhancements to its McAfee Mobile Security software, providing Android smartphone and tablet owners with additional privacy features that help them ensure apps are not accessing their personal information without their knowledge.

This new offering gives consumers access to an added layer of protection to preserve their privacy and protection against financial fraud, identity theft and viruses. It also checks against a URL reputation database, part of McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence Network, and reports the apps that are associated with and/or may be sending personal data to risky sites, such as adware and spyware networks.

The use of mobile apps is increasing in parallel with the increased use in mobile devices. Earlier this year, Google estimated 20 billion apps had been downloaded on the Android platform and according to a recent report by comScore on mobile social media usage, 33 percent of apps ask for more permissions than they need.

The Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences University of California at Berkeley report on Android Permissions found that 97 percent of users don’t understand how permissions correspond to the risks of an app. In addition, McAfee Labs has discovered approximately five percent of apps in its database are associated with risky URLs. Once permissions are granted, they can invade the user’s privacy and expose their personal life.

Android apps can ask for 124 types of permissions – these apps could be invading your privacy and exposing your personal life,” said Luis Blando, vice president of engineering, McAfee.

This summer alone, McAfee has seen an increase in threats targeting Android devices. The Android operating system continues to be the most popular target for writers of mobile malware—including SMS-sending malware, mobile botnets, spyware, and destructive Trojans.

To stay safe from malicious apps, users should research apps and their publishers thoroughly and check the ratings before installing. They should also purchase their apps from a well-known reputable app store market, watch for permissions (stay away from installing apps that don’t look right) and install antivirus software on their phone.

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