Access points have increased, making infiltration easier

John Giamatteo

John Giamatteo   | Photo Credit: Adam Bacher


The bad guys are more sophisticated than they have ever been and they are also better funded than they have ever been.

As more devices get connected to the Internet and to one another, the magnitude of threat to our data too increases. Mobile phones were once considered safe in comparison to PCs. But not any more. India ranked the highest among 10 countries for total number of unique infections, according to the McAfee Labs Threats Report, June 2016. John Giamatteo, Corporate V-P, Intel Security Group, spoke to B. Pradeep Nair on emerging threats. Excerpts:

What are the new challenges in the security landscape?

One of the biggest challenges is the vast number of connected devices. The access points for bad guys have increased, making it easier for them to infiltrate. The number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices is expected to grow from three billion to 13 billion in the next four years. That means there are going to be 13 billion access points for the bad guys.

Every hour more than 4.3 million attempts were made (via emails, browser searches, etc.) to entice our customers into connecting to risky URLs in Q1, according to the McAfee Labs Threats Report.

The bad guys are more sophisticated than they have ever been. They are also better funded than they have ever been.

What are the top security threats?

The number one threat, in terms of growth and complexity of attack, is ransomware. While on PCs, it tends to encrypt files and demand money to unlock them, on Android devices, the trend is to lock the user out until a fee is paid. Miscreants also tend to make bogus legal threats to frighten users into paying up.

There are also password breaches. The threat is so high that we built our own biometric solution. We have a product called True Key. It is a cross-platform application that uses facial features, the devices you own, like a phone, tablet or computer; fingerprint etc for flexible multi-factor protection.

How vulnerable are our mobile devices?

Very vulnerable. Especially in markets like India, where more and more people are skipping the PC stage and directly using the mobile devices for accessing Internet. So, mobile protection is one of our strategic initiatives. And we have made it very easy to get the solution cover all your devices. Now with IoT, we are extending the protection to wearables as well. We will soon introduce more device coverage.

Our philosophy is security as a service that protects all your digital life, irrespective of which device you are on. We have partnerships with Samsung and LG, wherein our solution comes embedded in the device.

Apps are driving mobile usage, but how safe are they?

It’s major point of vulnerability. As many as 37 million devices were affected by malware coming from mobile app stores in the last six months, with mobile malware samples up 24 per cent in Q4 of 2015 itself. Our products are designed such that they constantly scan apps. We also tell what data is shared with the app, like location.

There is also now the new trend of ‘mobile app collusion’. Here, different apps, that don’t pose a threat individually, in combination become dangerous. One of them could access local information, and it could transfer data to another app using channels for inter-app communication. The second app would then transfer the data to an outside device.

What are the new ways ensuring the safety of consumers?

We are employing new algorithms and other technologies, like machine-learning and cloud-based infrastructure. In June 2015, we had 100 million users; today, we protect 190 million users. With more users, we get more samples and all that data is fed into the Global Threat Intelligence system making the technology smarter.

Another area we are looking at is the ‘home gateway’, or the Wi-Fi router.

A heightened level of protection for Wi-Fi users could be compelling for telecom companies. This is a new and emerging category.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 11:25:31 AM |

Next Story