Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Deutsche Telekom Sells App That Would Have Detected iOS Spyware

  • Carrier bundling staff, resources into new security unit
  • Deutsche Telekom wants to double division’s sales by 2019

Deutsche Telekom AG is expanding its network security businesses with an application the German carrier says would have helped protect users from the spy software that rattled Apple Inc. customers around the world last week.

The company will release the app, which is based on self-learning algorithms, for mobile devices running the Android and iOS operating systems at the IFA technology conference that starts Friday in Berlin.

“It would have detected last week’s iOS attack,” Ferri Abolhassan, managing director at Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems unit, said in an interview.

Deutsche Telekom is turning to IT security products and services to unlock fresh revenue streams and help offset waning traditional phone-business sales. It’s setting up a business unit from Jan. 1 with about 1,000 employees to develop and sell new cyber security products. That puts the Bonn-based company in more direct competition with Symantec Corp., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp., its partners for other security and cloud computing products.

The new app starts at 1.99 euros ($2.20) a month and “works like a cardiogram for your mobile phone or tablet to protect you even from previously unknown threats,” Abolhassan said.

The carrier is pursuing the growth that the security software industry expects as more phones, TV sets and refrigerators are connected to the Internet, a burgeoning revolution called the Internet of Things. Securing mobile devices is becoming more important for companies as an increasing number of workers access corporate data on their personal handsets, potentially offering criminals a gateway into company systems.

Apple issued a patch last week to address vulnerabilities discovered by University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab during investigation of an attempted infiltration of an iPhone belonging to a human rights activist. According to Citizen Lab, the surveillance tool was developed by Israeli company NSO Group and was the most sophisticated revealed to date.

Deutsche Telekom wants to double sales at the new unit to a figure in the "mid-triple-digit” millions of euros by 2019, said Abolhassan, who heads the new division, dubbed Telekom Security. The company plans to hire more experts and may expand the unit with acquisitions as it seeks to grow also outside Germany, he said.

Deutsche Telekom is also offering to boost corporate IT defense systems, monitor networks for customers and clean up after a cyber attack.

“IT security is a growth business for Deutsche Telekom and of utmost importance to the company and its customers,” Thomas Tschersich, head of IT security at the company, said in an interview.