OnQ Blog

Snapdragon Smart Protect detects more mobile malware

Aug 31, 2015

Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.

End users and enterprises, along with their devices and data, are under increasing attack from mobile malware. Thousands of unknown (“zero-day”) and transformed mobile malware apps are generated each day. And traditional, signature-based anti-virus (AV) solutions alone aren't able to detect and stop them all.

Most AV solutions rely only on checking the signature files of downloaded apps against a relatively static database of signature files from known malware apps. This approach to detecting and stopping malware is limited, especially against the daily onslaught of new mobile malware. To make matters worse, even known malware apps can be “transformed” simply by changing the binary code of the apps, rendering them essentially invisible to signature-based AV apps.

Snapdragon Smart Protect to the rescue

We at Qualcomm Technologies designed our recently announced Qualcomm Snapdragon Smart Protect technology to detect zero-day and transformed malware, providing more comprehensive protection of privacy and device data. We’ve done this by creating application programming interfaces (APIs) for use by phone manufacturers (OEMs) and antivirus app vendors (ISVs) to complement their security solutions with real-time machine learning-based behavioral analysis. Snapdragon Smart Protect is designed to analyze and detect new malicious apps before their signature files have been incorporated into the signature databases of traditional AV apps.  

Machine learning-based behavioral analysis

Snapdragon Smart Protect is able to do this through advanced machine learning-based behavioral analysis. Snapdragon Smart Protect is engineered to look at the actual behavior of device applications in real time and almost instantly detect and classify any application behavior that is considered suspicious or anomalous. Suspicious applications are classified into severity levels of malware, ranging from more destructive malware applications, to spyware apps, to less threatening though annoying adware apps.

Download the Snapdragon Smart Protect infographic

Through the Snapdragon Smart Protect APIs, OEMs and ISVs are also provided with specific reasons as to why a particular behavior pattern was considered potentially malicious. OEMs and ISVs can then share this information with the user, empowering them to know more about what apps are doing on their device and to take corrective action as desired.

The Real Power is Under the Hood

Snapdragon Smart Protect accomplishes these feats using Qualcomm Zeroth machine learning technology on the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. Zeroth is highly-optimized heterogeneous hardware and software architecture that is uniquely designed to deliver high performance on-device cognitive capabilities by taking full advantage of Snapdragon processors’ heterogeneous compute capabilities, as well as algorithmic innovations in machine learning and low power sensor processing.

Snapdragon Smart Protect is unique behavioral-based anti-malware technology in that it is based in hardware. Like all Qualcomm Haven Security Solutions, Snapdragon Smart Protect is grounded in Qualcomm SecureMSM technology, keeping the core of Snapdragon Smart Protect more secure even if the operating system is compromised.

Snapdragon Smart Protect also benefits from the fact that Qualcomm Technologies has designed it from the ground up for mobile, taking thorough advantage of our uniquely deep access to the entire hardware and software stack of the Snapdragon 820 processor. This is how Qualcomm Technologies has been able to make broad system-level optimizations, to offer deep behavioral insight, and to offer such a high-performance, yet low-power technology.

Another advantage of Snapdragon Smart Protect is the fact that it was designed to operate primarily on device, rather than in the cloud. Snapdragon Smart Protect performs observation and analysis on the device in real time. So it doesn’t need to be connected, providing always-on monitoring of application behavior.

Commercial Availability

Snapdragon Smart Protect is expected to be available in consumer devices in the first half of 2016, in conjunction with the Snapdragon 820 processor. Mobile security providers like Avast, AVG and Lookout are working with Qualcomm Technologies to utilize Snapdragon Smart Protect capabilities in their commercial mobile applications.

Qualcomm Snapdragon Smart Protect, Qualcomm Snapdragon, Qualcomm Snapdragon Haven, and Qualcomm SecureMSM are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Qualcomm Zeroth is an initiative of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.