Military Leaders Think Smartphones are Worth the Risk

It’s almost the 4th of July! This is a great time of year to celebrate our armed forces who are out there protecting our treasured independence.

US military leaders are making big strides toward securing the military’s smartphones with the release of a new mobile device strategy.  Since their job is to keep our country safe, they consider mobile security to be a big factor.

Scientists at the Department of Defense have been hard at work, along with Google and university researchers to develop smartphone security, not only for normal use among the troops and workforce, but for the highest level of military activities where total secrecy is critical. Mobile security is a top concern for the military, since any breach of privacy or hacking incident could jeopardize the security of our country.

The DoD recognized that the use of smartphones was becoming more prevalent across the armed forces, and–instead of telling workers they can’t use mobile devices to access government data and services–they’re focusing on securing these devices to keep classified or confidential information out of the hands of the bad guys.  They’re working on the huge task of implementing military-wide mobile capabilities that will give our country’s military workforce the best possible tools to do their important work — and do it safely and securely.

Using the Android operating system, scientists created a special “kernel” that lives deep in the system of the mobile device or pad. The kernel provides multiple layers of mobile security, protecting the not-so-important, to top-secret communications.

Smartphone safety is high on everyone’s list of priorities these days. We at NQ Mobile are happy that mobile safety is on the minds of those who protect and defend our freedom.

Make sure your own smartphones and pads are safe and secure by downloading a powerful security package.  And, enjoy the holiday.

Have you had a security issue with your personal mobile phone?  Has your privacy been breached, or important material leaked?  Share your mobile security stories with us on our blog, or check in with us on our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear from you.

RiskRanker Defeats Malware Before It Can Cause Harm

If you’re keeping score in the battle of NQ Mobile vs. malware, chalk up a major win for NQ Mobile today. We proudly announced RiskRanker™, a new way to detect mobile security and privacy threats before they have a chance to do any harm to users.

NQ Mobile fights malware with RiskRanker.

For many years, mobile security experts have been fighting an uphill battle against malware, which has been steadily and dramatically increasing in both volume and sophistication. Researchers face the daunting challenge of trying to catch malware before it makes its way on to users’ smartphones. However, in many cases, they rely on known malware samples and their signatures. This means that malicious software can sit in app marketplaces for days, weeks, and even months being downloaded by users, before it’s discovered.

RiskRanker, NQ’s Powerful Defense Method

RiskRanker alleviates this problem by identifying apps with risky behavior while they’re in the app market and before they make their way to a user’s phone. It uses a unique two-step method of discovering malware, which is much more accurate in identifying patterns of seemingly innocent API uses that can actually be malware.

In a recent trial run, RiskRankerscanned over 100,000 apps from various marketplaces and identified 718 malware threats, including 322 zero-day threats.

Who can we credit for this new weapon against malware? RiskRanker was created by a team of researchers, headed by NQ Mobile’s Vice President of Research, Shihong Zou, and our Chief Scientist and Associate Professor at North Carolina State University, Xuxian Jiang.

Staying Ahead of Malware

This is a huge win for NQ Mobile but our experts are quick to remind us that the battle against malware will continue to rage on. Malware authors have a lot to gain when it comes to releasing malicious software and apps that can rob you of your valuable information, your money, and your identity. They’re coming up with new and more sophisticated tactics every day. That’s why our researchers are dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to continuously protect your smartphones against malware. When the bad guys create new malware, rest assured that NQ Mobile’s technology can defeat it.

Stay tuned to learn more about RiskRanker and how we’ll use it to protect your smartphone from malware.

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think about our latest defense method? We’re proud of our team’s accomplishments and would love to hear what you think, too. Leave your comments on our blog, or join us on Facebook.

“Checking In” and Mobile Safety

This is the first in a weekly series of articles that will take a closer look at kids in their teens, their use of mobile devices, and mobile safety issues. 

 If you have a teenager, he or she is most likely glued to a mobile phone most of the time. An entirely different world exists in that little gadget, and teens often like nothing better than to live in a world of their own. 

Most smartphones come with that brilliant feature, the GPS.  Besides being a great navigation tool for finding our way on a car trip, smartphone GPS systems are particularly attractive to teens, especially those who are really social.  Social mapping apps like Foursquare let kids “check in” wherever they happen to be. On some teens’ Facebook pages, you can see every coffee shop, concert and mall they’ve been to in the last few days. Kids enjoy advertising their whereabouts because their connection to friends is supremely important in those years. However, your kids’ trusted circle of friends may not be the only ones making a note of where your kids are.

Your kids should understand that creating a digital record of their activities compromises their privacy in a big way. Advertisers and app developers use location and checking-in information to “profile” peoples’ activities. This is not to say they gather personal information, but they do use the data to understand user behavior patterns. Maybe that’s not unnerving for kids and, perhaps, it’s a harmless breach of privacy, but we don’t really know the extent of that kind of tracking. The more threatening problem with checking-in is that predators can use a person’s digital record to monitor and stalk innocent kids.

Geo-tracking tools that provide parental peace of mind are fabulous. There’s a great sense of comfort for parents when they know their kids have reached their destination. Apps are also available that let you check on your kids’ whereabouts without their knowledge. For mobile safety purposes and staying on top of kids’ activities, geo-location tools are excellent. However, you need to take some simple mobile safety precautions when it comes to location tools.

  • Teach your kids not to post private information when they check in, such as street addresses, their full names, photos, or anything else that would help a predator identify them.
  • Use all the privacy settings provided with location apps to prevent strangers from having access to your kids’ information.
  • Turn off the location feature when it’s not being used. When it’s on, the device can stamp location information onto other activities you might be doing on your smartphone.
  • Make sure your kids know they’re leaving a trail of personal information about themselves when they use location tracking devices. Tracking their activities might be good fun for your kids and their friends, but it needs to be used wisely.
  • Check out websites that are designed to help you understand all the dos and don’ts to preserve your kids’ mobile safety and protection.  See and , two of the best online resources.

Kids don’t need to be frightened into smart mobile behaviors, but they should be informed and aware of the possibilities. That’s easier accomplished when parents are informed and aware. Don’t forget to protect your mobile safety and privacy by downloading a powerful security package on all your family phones.

Do you use geo-tracking and location apps?  What kinds of experiences have you had?  Do your kids use the check-in features?  Please share your experiences with us on our blog or our Facebook page.  We’d love to hear from you.

Is Your Employer Getting Onboard With BYOD?

Has your employer embraced the idea of employees using their personal mobile devices for work? Lots of new theories and proposed IT policies have been published lately, as IT managers struggle to find a happy medium between allowing employees to use their own mobile devices, and protecting the enterprise from mobile-related scams and malware. Clearly, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) issue has its risks as well as rewards.

What can you expect at your workplace?

A recent study found that 37% of information workers are already using technology on the job without formal permission.  Another survey shows that 80% of employees will be allowed to use their own devices for work by 2016.  So, ready or not, your employer’s probably going to adapt its information systems to accommodate privately-owned mobile devices, such as smartphones and pads.

It’s a big job.

Think about it. Protecting the enterprise from hacking and malware becomes a lot more complex and challenging when we employees use our personal mobile devices to tap into company documents, databases and email. If there’s no regulation or control, or at least some policy structure in place, the company could face a mega-disaster in terms of security. So, what are some of the issues your company IT managers are considering in order to make a smooth transition to BYOD?

  1. Employers will need to decide whether or not all employees are eligible to use their own devices for work.  Maybe the company isn’t prepared with the best security policies and systems yet.  Be patient.
  2. IT managers will need to know what devices are being used and how many in order to formulate an intelligent policy. Make sure your smartphone, pad and Bluetooth are accounted for or registered at work, if your employer requires it.
  3. The company has to decide whether it will be providing support for your mobile devices and, if so, how much, and how the services will be delivered.
  4. The question of how the responsibility for security will be divided between you and the company will need to be resolved in detail.  This step, alone, may require many hours of management time.
  5. Your company will determine what kind of mobile security protection is the best overall for individuals and the enterprise.  You may have to download some new apps, or get rid of some.
  6. Your company may require certain mobile security protection, and might want to reserve the right to monitor your personal devices for safety. Your passwords may have to be shared, or even assigned to you.
  7. Your company’s IT managers will need to decide what kinds of data can be accessed by a personal device, and which interactions will be monitored.
  8. What if an employee leaves the firm?  How will the access to company systems be cut off, and can the employer require the employee’s phone to be wiped?
  9. Once a policy is formed and in place, the enterprise will need to figure out how to assure your compliance, and how to deal with any breaches in security.

This is only a brief list

Any time a big change takes place in a corporate structure, there are hundreds of details that need to be considered, decided and implemented by management.  The security of the company is the responsibility of everyone — your compliance with your company’s newly emerging mobile security rules is critical.

So, be patient and work within the guidelines, even though they may change several times as the conversion takes hold. You can help make the BYOD transition a smooth one for your employer.  Remember, if this issue were an easy one, there wouldn’t be so much discussion about it.  It’s always better to be part of the solution and your ongoing cooperation is important.  Using your own mobile device for work can be a positive for you and your company.

Has your company developed a BYOD policy?  Do you understand the security issues they face?  Tell us your stories about using your personal mobile devices for work.  Share with us on our blog, or check out our Facebook page. 

Beware of Phony Websites

When you’re surfing the Internet on your smartphone, the last thing you might be thinking about is whether you’ve landed on a legitimate website. For the most part, the Web gives us anything we want in terms of quick and accurate information – in some cases, even too much information. But a certain scam that lurks on the Web might lead to trouble if we’re not aware. Watch out for the phony URL!

A spider lures insects to its web by trickery in order to provide itself with sustenance.  Likewise, a cybercriminal looks for clever ways to snare an innocent web surfer. One way of engineering a trap is to create an imitation website that’s so identical to the real thing, the user won’t notice that the URL is a letter off, or that there’s a small typo in the company name.

It’s fairly easy to notice a bogus URL on a PC screen, but a bit more challenging on a smaller mobile phone display. You can accidentally land on a bad URL by clicking a malicious ad, offer or other enticement. Unless you know what to look for, you might fall into the trap of handing information over to an imposter. Here’s what to watch for. (following paragraphs are numbered)

1.    A bogus website will have a URL (Uniform Resource Locator), or “address” that’s a bit different from the legitimate one. If you’ve arrived at a site through clicking on an ad, take a look at the URL. If it doesn’t look right, exit immediately.  Type in the proper URL if you know it, or let your search engine find it for you.

2.    Sometimes a more-careless or less-knowledgeable crook will use an IP (Internet Protocol) address as the URL for a fake website.  An IP address is the unique six-digit number assigned to every computer that accesses the Internet. You can recognize it because it’s a series of numbers, (sometimes more) separated by a dot, and it won’t have any relevance at all to the site you’re looking for.

3.    Another trick is to use a legitimate URL name, and attach a second level identifier to it.  An example might be, “” instead of the one you were actually looking for, which was “” If you’re not sure whether you’re seeing a legitimate URL, exit and find the site another way.

4.    If you’re planning to make any kind of transaction online, always look for a green padlock symbol or “https” to the left of the URL. This lets you know you’re on a secure site. If you don’t see it, don’t use it.

5.    Finally, if you see a URL with a funny or incorrect spelling, beware! Here’s an example:  If you click on a coffee ad and end up at, you can be sure you are on a phony site if you’re trying to reach

Mobile security consciousness is an ongoing process and new malware is being written every day.  Taking notice of a website’s URL is just another way of ensuring your mobile safety. For the best protection, always have a powerful mobile security package onboard.  You may never land on a bogus website, but if you do, protecting your smartphone and your mobile privacy is key.

Have you ever seen or gone to a fake website?  What did the URL look like? Did you know right away?  Share your info with us here on our blog, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Mobile Safety Reminders for Your Kids

Kids get all kinds of safety advice from the time they’re small.  They learn to stay safe near the water, not to play in the street, not to converse with strangers, not to play with fire – all the common-sense stuff they need to survive in the world.  But, have you been diligent about teaching your kids how to stay safe with their mobile phone or device?  Add it to your parenting list – more kids than ever own their own mobile phones, and learning safe mobile practices is just as important as any other.

Kids with mobile phones – you see them everywhere.  Mobile phones are a status symbol for teens, but how can we argue with a tool that keeps us in touch with our kids, and gives them a safety net in case of an emergency?

The wireless age is an amazing time to be a kid. Let’s make sure we teach our kids some basic safety rules before we send them out into the world with a new smartphone or pad.  Even if you’ve already had a discussion about mobile safety, it doesn’t hurt to go over it more than once.

  • Help your kids figure out strong, secure passwords.  Passwords should be at least eight digits, should contain at least one number and special character, and should be something your child can remember.  Encourage your kids to be creative. Using the names of their pets, boyfriends or anything that would be obvious to people who know them isn’t a good idea.
  • Explore the smartphone or pad with your kids and find the settings for the geo-location features.  Unless you have a plan to track your kids for a special day or event, show them how to keep all geo-location features turned off when they’re out and about.  Predators aren’t around every corner and your kids shouldn’t be paranoid, but they do need to know that bad people can stalk them through their mobile devices.  Check out for help with geo-location safety.
  • Remind your kids to only text and photograph only material they would not mind having publicly exposed. Period.  That means gossip, personal information and personal pictures.  A mobile phone might seem like a private repository but, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Ask some of your favorite movie stars.
  • Be sure your kids’ phones always have a powerful mobile security app on board to protect their privacy, avoid malware, and help easily them locate a lost phone.
  • Teach your kids to never respond to a text or voicemail from someone they don’t know, and not to click on anything uninvited, including ads and free offers — a vital rule for mobile security.
  • Maybe most important, kids should know not to ever agree to a private, face to face meeting with someone they’ve met through social networking.  If it’s not someone they can invite to the house, it’s not someone to meet up with in a private setting.
  • If your kids are being bullied, they need to know what it looks like, and who to talk to.  Cyber bullying has become a growing concern and simply cannot be tolerated.  Always let your kids know that you’re in their corner and have their backs.  They should know to come to you or a teacher before bullying gets out of hand.

Some advice seems like simple common sense, and your kids might think you’re being overly protective.  Even kids who are mature for their age or savvy about other matters need to be reminded about mobile safety.  It’s worth a few minutes and a few repeated reminders to keep them safe.

Do you know any stories about kids who’ve been bullied or had an unsafe experience with their mobile phone?  Tell us about it on our blog, or join the discussion on our Facebook page.