Mobile security threats businesses face now, and the future
Mobile security is the top of many organizations’ priority lists. This is not surprising given that 60% of mobile devices are now being used to access corporate data.
The shift to long- term remote working in 2020 meant that many business models and security strategies were turned on their head. Organizations that had solutions in place to protect on-premises infrastructures and desktop suddenly faced a huge number of new challenges. How to give employees secure access to business-critical information from anywhere in the world?
We are over two years later and with remote and hybrid working here to stay, we as a business explore mobile security threats that are now on the rise in 2022.
What is a mobile security threat?
Malicious imposters are always looking for way to breach organizations infrastructure defenses. A mobile security threat is an attack on an end user’s mobile device (such as phone, iPad or smartwatch) with the intention of stealing company data or compromising systems.
Malicious Apps: When downloading apps always use official App stores and check before granting any permissions. Attackers tend to use malicious apps exploiting users by stealing data and leaking it to 3rd parties.
Phishing: Phishing attacks commonly take place on the internet usually via email or text message. They are often disguised as coming from a trustworthy source but by clicking on the link or attachment, hackers can then gain access to your mobile device.
Vulnerable Networks: Unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi, are a target for attackers. In some cases, they will spoof a network creating a fake Wi-Fi that asks users to enter log in details. Once the victim has handed over their username and password the hackers can then use that information to compromise other accounts.
Lost or stolen devices: If a device falls into the wrong hand’s, you could be leaving yourself or your business vulnerable to a data breach. Putting measures in place such as biometrics or encrypting app can go some way to helping you keep your devices protected but alongside that advanced business solutions are vital.
Once an attacker has access to your systems they can wreak havoc across your organization, stealing log in credentials and creating spoof identities. What begins as a single breach on one device rapidly can spread across an organization’s networks. Any loss of information or data leaks will have financial, reputational and operational consequences for your business.
As technology becomes more advanced, cyber-attacks have become more sophisticated. With remote working considered the ‘new normal’ businesses must balance accessibility, ensuring employees have all the services and information they require, with security, implementing controls and policies to stop an employee from accidently compromising the business. According to a study by IBM (www.ibm.com/security/data-breach) having a solely remote workforce can increase the cost of a data breach by as much as £137,000.
With this in mind, here are a few of the security threats that businesses will come across in 2022.
BYOD: Blurring the corporate and personal network edge
Although businesses were skeptical, many have now seen firsthand the multiple benefits of remote working. One of those benefits is cost of saving made on infrastructure, with businesses promoting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy.
A recent study showed that 87% of companies allow employees to access mobile business app from personal devices, with 34% reporting an increase in productivity.
However, as the boundaries between work and home life become blurred, cyber security perimeters must be reinforced. Businesses that fail to put formal BYOD policies in place and restrict usage are ultimately at higher risk of data leakage.
5G and the acceleration of data theft
The UK 5G network facilitates the use of connected mobile devices offering faster download speeds and lower latency. 5G is expected to revolutionise the way we work, with many new smartphone models already connected to the network.
5G requires a new approach to cyber security. Thanks to the increased bandwidth, malware and other malicious programs will be able to steal a wealth of data in a shorter period of time. With new 5G cell towers being erected around the UK, we’ll see an upsurge of mobile data leakage.
Furthermore, 5G and the inception of the Internet of Things (IoT) could see a rise in spying attempts through microphones, cameras and other apps. 82% of IT professional predict that unsecured IoT devices would cause a catastrophic data breach within their organisation.
Accidental Data Leakage
One of the biggest threats to mobile security in 2022 and in the future is data leakage. This most commonly occurs as a result of employees downloading apps and granting access permissions without fully understanding what the app will do with the information.
It can also happen as a result of human error. For example the use of unsecured cloud services to store confidential information or simply by sending emails to the wrong recipient.
APIs increasing fraudulent activity
Businesses are using Application Programming Interfaces (API) to connect applications with third-party platforms. An example of this is Facebook; they allow mobile app developers limited access to a Facebook users profile information, whilst also allowing users to log in to third-party apps using their Facebook credentials as verification.
The banking industry is another example where API is being used to share client data with third-party applications. Although this will make life easier, this technology comes with its fair share of risk. Regulatory bodies are calling for businesses that use API to be more stringent about the third parties they work with and put controls in place to ensure access to customer data is compliant, reducing the risk of fraudulent activity.
How can businesses protect mobile devices
With the continuing rise in cyber-attacks on mobile devices, a tougher approach is needed. Creating a security-focussed IT strategy is the first step.
Whether you use a business mobile device or your personal smartphone, 35% of surveyed professionals indicated they had no mandated measures in place to secure accessible corporate data.
What security measures can your business take to protect against mobile security threats?
Basic Cyber Security – Never underestimate the power of instilling strong basic cyber security practice into your business. From using secure passwords to enabling two-factor authentication and from using secure VPN connections to spotting phishing emails, all employees should receive regular security training.
Mobile Security and Compliance Policies – With the majority of your workforce accessing information from home having a well-documented mobile policy will set business expectations and hold employees accountable for their actions.
Mobile Device Management (MDM) – Any business that operates a remote workforce should have an MDM solution. It allows administrators to control, secure and enforce policies across a range of mobile devices. Should an employee lose their device MDM allows businesses to wipe the device preventing access to sensitive information and protecting corporate networks.
Mobile Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) – To prevent a breach organisations must constantly monitor their environment and be able to detect incidences quickly. EDR enables organisations to monitor all endpoint and network events and respond to advanced threats.
Zero Trust Security – This approach to IT security requires every person who wants to access corporate networks and resources to undergo strict identity verification. This can be extremely effective in stopping hackers that have successfully breached one device, from accessing other areas of your infrastructure.
Regular Vulnerability Testing – Regardless of your size or industry, vulnerability assessments should be carried out regularly. They will enable your organisation to identify any weaknesses in your defences and ensure you are mitigating new threats as they arise.
Mobile security threats are ever-present in today’s society. With businesses producing more data than ever and with innovative technology allowing us to access information from anywhere, organisations must put security measures in place to protect their mobile estate.
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Mobile and Energy Specialist