Mobile devices have become an integral part of doing business. With the increase of mobile devices in the workplace comes risk in the form of mobile cyber crime. Attacks toward mobile devices have been increasing, and the numbers will continue to rise. Ignoring the threats could leave your organization vulnerable. Let’s take a bigger look at mobile cyber crime and what you can do to protect your business.
Mobile Is Just the Next Step
As the number of Internet-connected devices continues to rise, so too does the number of Internet-related crimes. While the rate of crimes was expected, the actual number has been much higher than people were anticipating. This is creating a lot of problems for users around the world.
What do we mean when we talk about mobile cyber crime? Mobile cyber crime is the act of using mobile devices to gain access to secure networks. From there, hackers can freely steal data and personal information. In 2016, mobile phone maker Nokia found that 1.3% of all phones had a form of malware. That’s an increase of over 400% from the year prior.
Mobile networks are being infected and hacked. Data is being stolen, repurposed, and sold. Hackers have several ways to accomplish this. They include:
Mobile apps have fundamentally changed the way users interact with computers. So much so that Microsoft altered the way they utilized app development when developing Windows 8. Taking a page out of Apple and Google’s playbook, apps allow developers to use the touchscreen to create a more ‘hands-on’ approach. This minimizes the need for mouse and keyboard peripherals used by desktop applications.
Just because an app makes it into a mobile app store doesn’t mean it’s completely safe. Every so often, an app is developed with vulnerabilities, or worse, appear to be useful, but are in fact malware or spyware. Apps like this are called ‘riskware.’ A few precautions you can take to ensure you don’t fall victim to riskware are:
- Do your research and make sure the app you are downloading is authentic and safe.
- Only allow the app to have the permissions it needs to be functional.
By keeping apps walled off from certain areas of your phone, you’ll reduce the risk of potential attacks. To combat riskware, Apple and Google have increased their efforts to keep malicious apps out of their app stores altogether.
Network Spoofing and Unsecured Connections
Are there any words more appealing than ‘Free Wi-Fi’? With mobile data usage increasing, and carrier-enforced data limits on user’s minds, many people jump at the opportunity to connect to a Wi-Fi network. When you’re home or at a trusted establishment, this is perfectly fine. But connecting to just any wireless network could spell trouble.
Any unsecured network could be a trap. Once you connect, the people providing the connection have full access to the information on your phone. If you use the phone for work, you are compromising the entire organization’s data at risk.
Mobile Phishing & Spyware
A favorite activity among mobile phone users is checking their email. It’s become a bit of a compulsive habit. Because of this, phishing attacks have a slightly better success rate on mobile phones. As we know, attackers want to catch a user off guard. When you check email on your mobile phone, you might miss some of the red flags that would jump out at you on a desktop. One wrong click can leave your phone, and the network you’re connected to, open to an attack.
Another primary concern mobile security professionals have revolved around spyware. There are some legitimate uses of spyware, typically an employer monitoring the mobile use of an employee on a company device. The chances of misuse are high. Some organizations step over the line and install spyware without the user’s consent through a mobile management policy. This is a significant breach of privacy and could be lead to worse problems in the wrong person gets access to the information.
Poorly Developed Software
Some apps can’t help but do more damage than good. Reliability issues could stem from weak encryption algorithms, encryption that isn’t properly implemented or misuses authentication tokens on the software.
These issues turn these apps vulnerabilities acting like legitimate applications. As we mentioned before, always check to make sure the app is authentic and safe.
The Cost of Mobile Cyber Crime
Determining the cost of cyber crime can be a little tricky. A study funded by Accenture and administered by the Pnemon Institute showed that the financial consequences of cyber attacks aren’t just more likely, but it’s getting more expensive too. The study found a 62% increase in financial losses from cyber attacks from 2013 to 2017. The latest figures show the average loss is close to USD 11.7 million.
The study also found that the type of cyber attack used varied a slightly by the size of the organization. Smaller organizations saw larger percentages of loss, per employee, by attacks like malware, phishing, and botnets. Larger organizations had more issues with Denial of Service attacks, sabotage, and theft.
The most expensive consequence of a cyber attack is information theft, with employee downtime and revenue loss also being major costs.
What Can You Do?
Mobile cyber crime can hit any organization, regardless of size or industry, so it’s imperative to implement some security strategies to reduce your risk. These strategies include:
Set Mobile Policy
As more organizations adopt a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for employees, the importance of having a way to manage those devices in greater. Allowing an unmanaged device to access your company’s network freely leaves you open to any number of potential risks. If your employees want to use their devices at work, they will need to allow you to have a little bit of control.
A mobile device management system is a great way to track and manage the devices your employees use for work. When setting up this policy, you will need to consider your employee’s right to privacy.
Your employees will encounter a majority of the cyber attacks that hit your organization. You need to make sure they are prepared to stop them. Frequent training is the best way to keep your employees aware of current cyber crime trends. Talk to them about popular types of cyber attacks, like phishing, social engineering, and more. A knowledgeable workforce is one of the best network security tools you have at your disposal.
Implement Mobile Security and Secure Networking Software
Mobile security software goes hand-in-hand with a BYOD policy. Having mobile devices without any security measures installed to connect to your network is a recipe for disaster. Luckily, there are several applications available to protect mobile devices better and, in turn, your network.
Another security measure to consider is setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN adds another layer of protection by way of encryption. This ensures any data that is sent or received is done so safely.
For help implementing these and other network security solutions, call IT Support Guys today. We provide a free network assessment to all new clients to give us the information we need to build a security solution for your company’s exact needs. Our team of specialists has over a decade of experience helping small to mid-sized businesses just like yours. Schedule your free network assessment today by call 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).