Mobile devices are raising security concerns for nearly everyone these days. The concern ranges from parents worried about how their children might be vulnerable to IT managers and business owners trying to deal with the influx of security threats to their business. Today, what you don’t know WILL hurt you. Threats through mobile devices are pervasive and the best way to deal with these threats is to understand where the vulnerabilities lie and the simple steps you can take to reduce these threats to you, your family and your business.

Mobile devices are raising security concerns for nearly everyone these days. The concern ranges from parents worried about how their children might be vulnerable to IT managers and business owners trying to deal with the influx of security threats to their business. Today, what you don’t know WILL hurt you. Threats through mobile devices are pervasive and the best way to deal with these threats is to understand where the vulnerabilities lie and the simple steps you can take to reduce these threats to you, your family and your business.

‘Tablet Shipments increase 53.4% worldwide’ – Gartner

Personal Safefty and Privacy

screengrabLet’s start with smart phones and personal safety. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports, almost 40 percent of the respondents said that they didn’t take even minimal security measures, such as using a screen lock, backing up data, or installing an app to locate a missing phone or remotely erase data from it. All of these steps can be easily taken in less than five minutes and will save valuable data, fraud, time, and perhaps your largest business asset… your intelligence.

Next in line for serious threats is the malicious software that pervades the vast abundance of ‘free apps’. They can be responsible for everything from odd phone behavior, to unauthorized phone and data charges, to break-ins to banking and other accounts. Many don’t give a second thought to downloading an application that they feel will be useful or fun. But some of these applications can either purposely or inadvertently expose you to these and other threats such as identity theft or stalking through following an individual location.

Take a look at the app on the right. The original app didn’t require access to my personal information, calendar, email, and confidential information, but the updates did. You even have to be careful about the blind ‘update all’ button.

Many applications can be more intrusive than they need to be or than they intended to be. When installing applications, don’t accept the option for location-based services. If you need it for a specific application, you’ll need to go back through your phone afterwards and ensure that location services are turned back off. According to Consumer Reports, 1% of smart-phone users or members of their households had been harassed or harmed after someone used such location tracking to pinpoint their phone. Seven percent said they had wanted to turn that feature off but didn’t know how.

Certain applications request access to your contacts and email addresses. Be very aware of what your applications are asking you to share and spend some more time reviewing privacy policies that you may have to accept.

Securing Your Business

The phenomenon of “BYOD” (bring your own device) is raising a whole new level of risk to small, medium and even large enterprise networks. A recent report from U.K.-based Juniper Research Ltd, indicates the number of cyber security threats to mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets has exploded over the past two years. In the meantime, most of us are not even looking at the threats that those devices can bring to our business networks and what possible security solutions we may need to put on our personal devices. Because of the unprecedented amount of applications being developed for smart devices, criminals are moving their focus from PCs-based malware and malicious attacks to mobile devices in both the enterprise and consumer spaces. It’s expected that there will be over one million pieces of mobile malware by the end of this year.

Despite that troubling analysis, Juniper Research analysts found that more than 80 percent of all enterprise- and consumer-owned smartphones will remain unprotected through the end of this year. The sluggish adoption of mobile security is driven by a lack of user awareness about mobile device vulnerabilities and a general perception that mobile security products are too expensive to justify, the firm said in its Mobile Security: BYOD, mCommerce, Consumer & Enterprise 2013-2018 report.

There are a number of steps that you can take to minimize the vulnerability of your business to threats that may enter through business-owned or personal devices that may be accessing your network and data on a daily basis. There are four basic tactics to consider:

  • Define a policy to minimize risk
  • Educate your employees
  • Secure and backup your data (preferably through automated policy)
  • Choose your network hardware solutions wisely

 

At AllConnected, we protect your employees, your data, and your network safety as seriously as we protect our own. We’re happy to help you with an assesment of your network at any time. In the meantime, you can go to www.allconnected.com/securitytips/ for a security tips reference sheet and the the latest security and cyber threat information from AllConnected or FBI InfraGard.

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