BARCELONA—The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the star of Mobile World Congress this year, and once again the company’s flagship handset will come pre-installed with McAfee security software.
McAfee and Samsung are extending a security partnership that began with the Galaxy S8 to Samsung’s next generation of flagship devices, pre-loading McAfee software on the Galaxy S9, Galaxy Note 8, along with Samsung Smart TVs, PCs, and notebooks. As with the Galaxy S8, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy Note 8 will come pre-installed with McAfee VirusScan anti-malware protection.
More notably, the Galaxy S9 will also come equipped with McAfee-powered Samsung Secure Wi-Fi, which once again gives Samsung’s marquee smartphone a built-in virtual private network (VPN) service. Samsung describes its Secure Wi-Fi VPN as “an encrypted tunnel between the device and the internet to protect user’s privacy.”
“Samsung has taken a really strong interest in VPNs of late,” said McAfee‘s Chief Consumer Security Evangelist Gary Davis. “Because of exploits like Krack on public Wi-Fi networks, Samsung has keyed in on enabling that capability in their premium phones.
McAfee extended its built-in security support to the Galaxy Note 8 Secure W-Fi VPN this past December, as a prelude to powering the VPN in the Galaxy S9. Davis said McAfee is working with Samsung on security features for a wide range of devices, with a particular focus on integrating VPN capabilities through McAfee Safe Connect in an intuitive mobile interface.
“Samsung engaged us and said we’re really interested in your VPN product and think consumers would benefit from it,” Davis said. “They were very keen on having an engaging and simplified user experience. Getting into it is really simple. It’s easy to turn it on and off with a touch.”
Piggybacking on its other security announcements, McAfee unveiled the results of its latest Mobile Threats Report. McAfee Labs detected more than 16 million mobile malware infestations in the third quarter of 2017 largely motivated by money: banking Trojans, virtual bank robberies, and particularly cryptocurrency heists through fake mobile wallets or exchange hacks.
The report also identified more state-sponsored malware attacks, including a recent one targeting North Korean dissidents and journalists using the popular South Korean chat app KakaoTalk. The attack was aimed at implanting spyware on the victim’s device.
McAfee CEO Christopher Young is part of a keynote panel at MWC titled “The Foundations of the Digital Economy,” and Davis said there would be strong links between Young’s keynote and the mobile threat report. Davis said it took 20 years to get to 2 million pieces of malware on the PC, but the report found that mobile malware has risen from 9 million pieces last year to now more than 16 million.
“The bad guys are still going to target PCs, but the ubiquity of mobile devices makes it extremely attractive to target those devices in a number of ways we haven’t historically seen,” Davis said. “Nation-states using malware to spy on protesters, virtual cryptocurrency robberies gaining momentum, and authors are changing the focus of the malware from ransomware, which is highly disruptive, to cryptocurrency mining malware that sits there as quietly as possible. The frequency and velocity of attacks are reaching critical mass.”
To combat this, Davis said McAfee is partnering with everyone, including Amazon on a McAfee Alexa skill and another collaboration announced at MWC with Spanish telecomunnications company Telefónica on McAfee-enabled routers.
“No one company in the world can tackle it on their own,” Davis said. “We’re partnering with some of the largest companies in the world because of the notion that together is power. Every day there are major vulnerability announcements, another breach, or another piece of malware getting global attention. By partnering with companies like Samsung and others, we’re getting the most effective coverage we can.”
PCMag will be covering McAfee CEO Christopher Young’s Mobile World Congress keynote on Tuesday 2/27.