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Ice Cream Sandwich, Android tablets spur security explosion

by Kristen Nicole

A new iteration of the DroidKungFu Android Trojan has been uncovered, presented as a legitimate app update in order to sneak its way onto your Android phone. It uses a new exploit to gain access to devices. First brought to light by Lookout Mobile Security last week, this new variant, which Lookout calls LeNa, uses social engineering to trick users into giving the installer super-user access on devices. Once deployed, the malware attaches itself to a native system process.

Lookout for Android tablets

Malware threatens the security of end users with cunning agility, as the booming mobile landscape presents an alluring challenge for attackers. The unique environment mobile devices offer can blindside an end user, but it also encourages very specific solutions from dedicated companies, including Lookout.

Just a few days after launching its first security app for iOS, Lookout expanded its Android offering to include tablets. Lookout recognized the security threats for Android very early on, and now they turn to tablets to offer protection and “find my phone” capabilities for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich tablets, as well as Wi-Fi-only devices.

“Tablets are susceptible to the same mobile threats as smartphones, though tablets aren't always connected to a mobile network. With this new version of Lookout, we made sure that people can get the same level of protection on their tablets as they have on their smartphones,” said Kevin Mahaffey, Lookout co-Founder and CTO.

Security on ICS

Security is a hot topic for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as the OS update provides the perfect opportunity for Google to layer in more protection for its devices. One perk is the ability to fully encrypt your ICS device, locking down all your data behind a personalized PIN. ICS also has a security feature designed to limit the damage that malicious code can cause in the first place, called Address Space Layout Randomization. It rearranges the memory locations for various app components to help prevent attacks.

With global tablet shipments expected to rise, already exceeding notebook sales earlier this year, the tablet landscape merely opens up more doors for attackers and security providers. A few years of experience in the mobile realm can be readily applied to the tablet market, and Google along with third party providers are becoming more proactive in their efforts to instill security features in Android tablets.