Mobile Security Threats Explained

3 Minutes Read

Data leaks

Not only is private data one of your company's greatest assets, but it's also the target of malicious outsider attacks. Poorly protected devices and lax mobile security policies make your company data privy to hackers.

According to IBM, the average cost of a corporate data breach is $3.86 million and takes roughly 280 days to identify and contain. Even just one data breach could spell financial ruin for your business!

Your data is most vulnerable to leaks from current or past employees. Hackers might perform sophisticated social engineering attacks, targeting current employees to retrieve information that can provide access to company resources. 

In these situations, hackers might impersonate reputable vendors, appeal to an employee's interests, or even visit your place of business in an attempt to acquire enough information to access company data.

Employees might accidentally disclose company information to outsiders (most common in the healthcare industry) or have a disgruntled ex-employee who sells or trades sensitive company data post-termination to malicious third parties.  

Unsecure Wi-Fi and public hotspots

Without stringent rules and policies in place, your company information is at-risk when your employees connect online using an unsecured Wi-Fi network or public hotspot while working remotely.


Phishing attacks ("SMiShing")

While your mobile device is still prone to threats from your inbox, attackers are evolving with the times and targeting mobile devices using SMS-based phishing schemes now. 

Phishing attempts using SMS messaging and social/gaming apps are referred to as "SMiShing" attacks. This is a significant threat as uneducated employees are more likely to fall victim to a SMiShing attack.


Mobile Applications – Spyware/Stalkerware

Probably one of the greatest threats to security lies in the applications your employees download onto their mobile devices. Not only do some of these applications access and share more data than necessary, but some of them are also riddled with vulnerabilities.

These applications access user data and sell it to companies, turning them into a money-making machine for developers through advertisements. When an employee agrees to the "terms and conditions", they could be permitting access to sensitive company data on their mobile device as well.

Some of these free applications might even be malicious in nature, mimicking popular messaging apps. And while 89% of these applications are deleted from app stores, one report discovered them still installed on active devices six months after they were deleted from the store.

Attackers also take advantage of 61% of applications with code vulnerabilities, leading to data leakage or DoS and man-in-the-middle attacks. 

Regularly updating your mobile device's software is an effective way to patch security holes and prevent malware attacks. However, it was reported that almost half of all Android users didn't have the latest software installed on their mobile devices, leaving over 846 million devices exposed to malware through known vulnerabilities.  


Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)

BYOD is when employees use their personal mobile devices for work, which is standard practice for most small businesses. As mentioned before, it saves the company money and aids in employee mobility and satisfaction. 

Unfortunately, it's a security risk well. As opposed to company-owned mobile devices where you can exercise greater control, your company's data vulnerabilities are more significant with BYOD policies.

Businesses tend to grant users generous permissions on their BYOD, especially when using them for work-related tasks. Without effective MDS security policies or an MDM solution in place, employers can't mandate employees to update their mobile devices with software and application updates.

Again, this creates an opportunity for malicious attackers to access company data through code vulnerabilities in applications, unsecured Wi-Fi connections, and the like.


Mobile Device Management Solutions

The threats to mobile device security are significant, but thankfully, these risks can quickly be addressed by implementing a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution into your business' IT infrastructure. 

Simply put, mobile device management is security software that enables you to monitor and manage mobile devices across your network. This software gives you better control over laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other instruments used in your business. 

And because 67% of businesses believe mobile solutions are an essential element of their company's success, adopting effective mobile security software is vital to maintaining progress.

Here are some features to look for when identifying an MDM solution for your business. Most of these features can be found in software such as Hexnode, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility, and IBM Security Maas360:

  • Remote configuration and monitoring  This allows you to register new devices easily, push software updates, force application updates over the air, and observe which devices are accessing your network at all times. 
  • Security policies and enforcement This includes policies related to data storage, authentication/authorization, and remote content access, to name a few.
  • Passcode/remote wipe MDM software should allow you to wipe company data from the device remotely. In some cases, you will have permission to erase personal data, which might later be used in a social engineering attack.
  • Data restrictions many MDM software suites allow you to establish a geofence and restrict data and application accessibility based on the physical location of a mobile device. For example, you may choose to disable specific applications on enterprise mobile devices while users are off-site.
  • Logging/reporting  most MDM solutions automatically log and create a report indicating which devices are on your network and at what times. This is typically done for compliance purposes, but it's also an effective tool for identifying where vulnerabilities existed in the case of a security breach.
  • Scalability – your software needs to accommodate new users and devices quickly, not only as your business grows but as the mobile device market evolves as well. An MDM software should make device registration, configuration, and policy enforcement as simple as possible.

Need help in implementing a more comprehensive solution? Contact our team at Commprise, and we'll help you find the best MDM solution for your business. Book your call today!