Mobile Phone Security and Trends

And best defenses against threats

Most of the mobile security breaches are caused by simple misconfiguration. Mobile phones that cause security breaches ares till rare according to the research company Gartner, however they still do happen. They are mostly occurring due to users misconfiguring the apps or even misuse of an app and not because of sophisticated technical attacks on mobile devices. Gartner says that by 2017, mobile application misconfiguration will result in about 75% of mobile security breaches and vulnerabilities.

An example is simply the misuse of apps using cloud services on mobile devices; tablets and smartphones. For malware to do any significant damage anywhere for example, it would have to be at an administrative level. Jailbreaking an Apple iPhone or rooting an Android smartphone would become the most obvious devices to become compromised in this way. This is because it can escalate the mobile user’s privileges significantly on any of those mobile phones thus turning the user into an administrator.

The best defense against such scenarios is simply implementing a mobile device management policy especially in Bring Your Own Device environments or using app shielding and “containers” that will protect important mobile data.

A recent survey by Gartner sheds more light on BYOD security. Many BYOD users use their mobile devices in a mix of social task and productivity in a 2013 fourth quarter survey of 995 American workers conducted by Garter. This can increase the threat that cyber attacks on such devices can result in loss of data, breach of security and also compliance violations under a company’s management policy. Creating a lax and false sense of security can unfortunately easily do damage to any company. Gartner says that roughly 25% of respondents said last year they had experienced a security related issue with their smartphone. Alarmingly only 27% of those considered it serious enough to report to their employer.

According to Juniper Research, payments made via a smartphone totaled more than 110 million transactions. That number should triple by 2017. Europe also has a growing presence of terminals accepting these “contactless payments”. Mobile banking technology is available worldwide largely due to developing countries according to Juniper Research. In their recent report, 800 million mobile phone users will have used their mobile device for banking by the end of 2014. This number will swell to 1.75 billion by end of 2019. Emerging markets are especially seeing an increase in mobile banking. This is actually leading to fewer bank visits and even closures of some physical banks.

This ads to the importance of security on smartphones as well as other non-mobile devices and computers or servers. Many CIO’s and IT directors are struggling with how to tackle the issue of enforcing and making it very clear to employees of established company policies and that all employees are compliant with those policies at all times.

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