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Qualcomm's new mobile chip will learn how to identify malicious apps

Qualcomm's new mobile chip will learn how to identify malicious apps

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In recent months it seems like machine learning has been primarily used to make nightmarish eye-riddled hellscapes and misidentify Star Trek planets as waffle irons. But we're not just teaching machines to identify patterns for our own amusement — they could make also make our lives easier. Qualcomm's new Smart Protect technology could be one such example. The chip maker today detailed the new feature, available on its upcoming Snapdragon 820 processor: a hardware-based anti-malware solution that Qualcomm says will monitor the behavior of apps on a device, detecting and classifying any that are deemed suspicious or anomalous.

Qualcomm's new chip will monitor for malicious activity

Currently most anti-malware apps available on mobile devices rely on a list of known threats, meaning that malicious software can be fairly easily tweaked to bypass their security measures. Rather than relying on these lists to identify nefarious software, Smart Protect will monitor what's actually happening on your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, making it possible to warn users of unexpected activity. Asaf Ashkenazi, director of Qualcomm's product management, says users will get "nearly instantaneous notifications of detected privacy violations and malicious activity," and because the technology is baked into the hardware itself, these reports will be possible offline and without draining your phone's battery excessively.

The feature is set to become available on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processors when they launch next year. The company says it's already working with security firms, including Avast, AVG, and Lookout, using an API to tie Smart Protect into their commercially available apps, meaning users will be able to take advantage of its capabilities.