Smartphone Poker Game

By  Ben Halpert — March 01, 2010

A Smartphone WallStreetainment Lady GaGa Boo-Yah! If you have no idea what you just read, you are not catching Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" weeknights on CNBC.

In early 2010, Cramer praised Lady GaGa on her prowess for picking the mobile marketplace winners for the year -- Google and Apple (hence, GaGa).

For those of you who have never seen Cramer's form of WallStreetainment (hey, did I coin a new word? We'll have to submit it to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary), your 401Ks are missing out. Cramer has one objective -- making his viewers money (with a dose of entertainment).

How does Cramer try to make his audience money? By making them aware of what is really happening in the stock market so they can make informed investment decisions.

And like Cramer, I strive to make my readers aware of the security- and privacy-related aspects of their personal and business use of mobile devices.

Lady GaGa's song Poker Face is talking about the dichotomy of Google and Apple's approach to transforming the mobile masses. OK, maybe not...but stay with me, here.

Apple's App Store is a tightly controlled transaction platform where only Apple-approved apps ever see the light of day. Apple politics play a large role in which apps are approved and which are denied. The denied apps remain destined for the iPhone emulator of the developer for eternity.

Google's Android Market, on the other hand, is more in line with the Google mantra of "do no evil." If the proposed application meets minimum requirements then approval, and Android Market fame, await. Now, that is not to say that Android Market is an Anarchist's dream, as noted by Google's removal of malicious banking apps in January 2010.

The availability of security-related apps exposes an additional divergence in honor of Lady GaGa.

Go shopping in the Android Market and you have your choice of Android security applications. One such example is the antivirus product, Mobile Security by Lookout.

Now, shop in the Apple App Store and browse for a security application...nothing. Because Apple evaluates submitted apps from a malicious intent perspective, iPhone users enjoy a sense of security. But are iPhone users not affected by mobile malware? On the contrary; while Apple hopes you will not use a jailbroken iPhone, the reality is quite the opposite. Users hate being constrained when trying to be productive or creative. So while iPhone anti-malware is stuck in a state of denial, security issues will continue to hit iPhones.

Apple and its App Store play the smartphone security game with a "Poker Face" while Google and the Android Market play by showing their hand.

From a business and personal aspect, you have to decide how you will play your hand.

Hey Cramer, your deal.



Ben Halpert, CISSP, is an information security researcher and practitioner and writes monthly about security. Comments, questions and requests can be sent to him at; please include SECURITY in the subject line.


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