Smartphones- and mobile devices in general- have become an omnipresent part of today’s society. From accessing social media sites to mobile banking, it is tough to imagine people spending a single day without using their smartphones. This convenience also trickles into the corporate scene where more businesses have been implementing BYOD policies to improve daily operations. Sadly, the use of mobile phones comes tied with a security risk, both to corporate and non-corporate users.
While you might think that malware attacks are the highest risk to the security of mobile devices, you might be surprised that there’s a higher chance of being struck by lightning than that happening. Instead, the cyber risks that plague mobile devices are easily overlooked, but they can have a major impact on the security of the devices.
Here are some common cyber-security issues that plague the use of mobile devices:
Out of Date Devices
Unlike the conventionally controlled corporate devices, modern-day devices aren’t updated as often. Employees might use their own devices to access corporate networks, but never take the time to update them once manufacturers send out updates. Even worse, most IoT devices are also built with security as an afterthought, leaving these devices ever-exposed.
Since most updates are meant to patch common vulnerabilities, the chances are that the out of date devices can easily get hacked. Hackers can easily use these gapping cyber-security loopholes to get into corporate networks or access your personal information. For personal devices, you need to ensure that they are ever updated. For corporate devices, on the other hand, business leaders need to create policies that delegate the updating task as well as outline the dos and don’ts.
Simply put, a crypto-jacking attack is an attack in which a hacker uses a device to mine for cryptocurrency without the consent of the user. Other than this being a breach of privacy, mining for cryptocurrency takes up a huge chunk of the productivity of the device. It can easily lower your device’s battery life as well as cause some damage due to overheating components. While the attacks first started with desktops, they slowly got into the mobile phone scene.
However, the ban of cryptocurrency mining apps both on Google Play Store and iOS App Store has led to its decrease. But this doesn’t mean that hackers have quit it yet. By using rogue ads on mobile websites or applications downloaded from third-party play stores, hackers can still launch successful attacks. To avoid these risks, you should stick to downloading applications from the official markets as well as only accessing secure websites.
Social engineering has become so common that 91% of cyber-attacks start with a phishing email. By working under the façade of a trusted party, hackers can gain access to the data of mobile phone users. Smartphone users are also at a high risk of falling prey to this attack, due to the limited screen sizes of the phones.
It can be tough to tell a genuine email from a phishing one from such screens. Even worse, the fact that most people multitask while using their phones increases the chances of clicking on the hazardous call to actions by mistake. In fact, some attacks even target the two-factor authentication, making social engineering an even larger threat.
While it can sometimes be accidental, data leakage is one of the leading causes of cyber breaches. It can stem from both using insecure software to common human errors. Shadow IT might complicate the former since IT leaders might have already sanctioned the right corporate software, only for the employees to use different unsanctioned applications during daily operations.
Some of these apps might not only have security loopholes that lead to data leakage, but they may also be incompatible with other IT assets, reducing productivity. On the other hand, an employee might easily paste sensitive data in the wrong place or transfer the data into a public cloud.
The first step against this is to create policies that prevent intentional data leakage. Next, IT teams need to set up strict application vetting processes to pick the best applications, both function-wise and security-wise. As for the threat of shadow IT, businesses need to concentrate on the best practices for preventing shadow IT.
Unsecure Wi-Fi Networks
Your mobile devices are only as secure as the network that you are using. If you use public Wi-Fi networks, the chances are that hackers can snoop into your data without your knowledge. Even worse, you might still be using private networks but still expose your data to risks, especially if you lack a strong password.
Among the safest bet for protecting your data is using VPNs when using untrusted networks. These solutions help to protect your network’s traffic from man-in-the-middle attacks. As long as you can pick the right VPN vendor, you can remain a little bit safer from this attack.
Security will always be a concern in a world centered around mobile devices. As long as you take the right steps, you can protect yourself from this risk. Consider the tips outlined above to stay safe.