How important is the security of mobile devices and why it is a worthy investment?

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Nowadays is when mobility forces companies to leave data in the hands of employees. Access restrictions often make companies less competitive, delaying their business processes. Cloud solutions are being adapted on an unprecedented scale. They allow to access, upload and download data and change settings for users who connect from various devices – for example, business or private phones and tablets.

How “safely” do you use your phone / tablet? Think about your phone/ tablet for a while in terms of:

  • data that you store on it – business and private,
  • accounts from which you have not logged out,
  • critical business applications that you use.

By installing each application, you consent to the collection of certain information. Do you know what information is collected? How are they processed? Who uses them? Probably not, who reads the terms of the contract today when downloading a free application. This kind of thinking has led to a surge in attacks on mobile devices through a variety of methods and targets.

According to Verizon’s Mobile Security Index 2020, 84% of companies surveyed decided to make the protection of mobile devices a priority due to the amount and value of data stored in the cloud. Also -54% of companies are less certain about the security of mobile devices compared to other systems. The desire for productivity and flexibility has led many companies to take a “use first, secure later” approach with disastrous results. This is because there is a much stronger personal connection between the user and the mobile device – this is “My Phone” after all.

Employees will use their device in any way they feel like, and IT departments are not able to put the same security features on smartphones and tablets as, for example, on business laptops. Additionally, along with the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, more and more employees use their own mobile devices. And those users usually don’t have basic security knowledge to recognize potential threats.

Why are mobile devices causing so many problems?

There are many reasons why mobile devices are the bane of security departments.

Below we present the main of them:
  • They are easy to lose or steal.
  • It is enough for the user to download the application with “sewn-in” malware, and the device becomes a vector of data leakage and user credentials. Not to mention little things like spying or redirecting to advertising pages
  • Because they are “at hand”, mobile devices most often connect to public or unknown networks – which exposes them to man in the middle or rouge access point attacks.
  • Security awareness of mobile phones is dramatically low: “I have a work phone so it must be secured.” “They let me use my own phone – so they definitely have a way” etc.

How can you control mobile devices and the data stored on them?

In order to counteract attacks exploiting the above-mentioned “vulnerabilities”, IT security system manufacturers have developed technologies to control devices and data stored on them.

Below we present a few areas that address the main challenges related to the threats of the so-called “Mobile”:

Mobile Device Management – MDM – allows administrators to gain control over mobile devices. By control we mean here:

  • Knowing what phones users are using and what OS is installed on them.
  • The ability to block application downloads, eg the most restrictive companies allow users to download only a few proven applications.
  • Creating security profiles – configuration with a specific restriction level suited to the user profile and the degree of device use.
  • Containerization – allowing to separate business applications in a “container” with specific security rules.|
  • Remotely locate devices and the ability to ‘wipe’ them – remove all content.

Anti-malware / Anti-ransomware / Antivirus – The first line of defense is to control the downloaded applications and their sources. However, even the AppStore and Google Play have problems with infected applications in their stores. There are 4 main approaches to protecting your devices from malware obstructed in your application:

  • Traditional signature-based discovery

  • Hybrid AI – where cloud-based threat detection mechanisms based on machine-learning analyze the downloaded files and then return the analysis results to the agent on the end device. The advantage of the hybrid model is processing speed. The downside – that the action will be taken only after the results of the analysis.

  • Sandboxing in the cloud – each downloaded application undergoes cloud verification. The upside is the analysis of each file using advanced device emulation, the downside – processing time. However, with 5G technology entering the markets, we expect the popularity of this type of protection to grow significantly.

  • Agent for mobile devices with behavioral analysis mechanisms – is a solution for organizations that cannot use the cloud for various reasons. Threat analysis mechanisms are stored locally on the device and the only contact with the cloud is downloading updates.

Mobile VPN – protecting against interception of traffic by using an unsecured Wi-Fi network or a “substituted” access point. VPN allows us to secure network traffic from our devices, including against Man-in-the-Middle and Rogue Access Point attacks

Application control – allows you to control the level of access of downloaded applications to data stored on the device.

Data encryption – on the device and in transit to prevent data interception and leakage.

It should be remembered that leading manufacturers combine many of the above functionalities in one solution. This allows not to overload the device and at the same time provides the highest level of protection.

According to Checkpoint, 64% of cybersecurity specialists doubt that their organizations can block attacks on mobile devices. And that’s what makes investing in mobile security one of the smartest things a large, small, or medium-sized business can do to protect their organization.

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