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Startup Uncovers Flaws In Mobile Apps, Launches New Security Service

Wandera says only one of seven US employees is given any guidance on mobile security by the employer.

A startup company this week released data revealing security vulnerabilities in three popular mobile applications as well as survey data indicating that mobile devices are putting enterprise data at risk.

In a press release, startup mobile security vendor Wandera also launched a new service that scans mobile application usage and flags vulnerabilities as well as risky behavior.

Using data collected by its service, which monitors mobile applications on thousands of devices, Wandera has determined that seven of every ten devices are transmitting sensitive data in the clear -- the type of data that can be easily stolen by a man-in-the-middle attack. In addition, one in five devices are running apps vulnerable to local access attack.

In addition, Wandera disclosed "severe" vulnerabilities in three mobile applications:

  • Pizza Express, app transmits personal details include username, password, date of birth and children’s ages and genders
  • The Economist app transmits email and hashed password information in the clear
  • CNBC PRO app leaks credentials allowing access to full names, addresses, telephone numbers and other sensitive information

Wandera has informed the involved companies, but responses were not published.

The startup has identified "numerous" other mobile applications that also have severe vulnerabilities, says Eldar Tuvey, CEO of Wandera. "Most enterprises don't have a full understanding of the risk they face from these apps," he says.

In conjunction with the disclosure of the vulnerability data, Wandera released the results of a survey of more than 2,000 business employees conducted by the research firm YouGov. That survey reveals that only 14 percent of US employees have received any guidance on smartphone security from their employers -- and only 6 percent of UK employees have received such guidance. "The figures on tablet devices are even smaller," Tuvey says. "People don't know the risks associated with the devices they are using."

Wandera announced the vulnerability data in conjunction with the launch of its Wandera Secure service, which monitors mobile application usage through its Mobile Data Gateway network. The services route all mobile data traffic through the Wandera network, enabling enterprise IT to monitor usage, scan mobile applications for vulnerabilities, and block the use of applications or websites that may pose a threat to enterprise data.

"The service can also be used as a tool to educate users -- you can set it to warn them when they are about to use an application that's risky or that uses an inordinate amount of data cost," Tuvey says. "It's a way to help enforce mobile policy."

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