The use of mobile devices has skyrocketed across all markets – consumer and enterprise alike – during the past several years. Technological innovations have transformed mobile phones into pocket computers that can be used for everything from making dinner reservations to running business intelligence on quarterly sales figures.
Never before have people had such robust computing power in devices that can be taken virtually anywhere. Unfortunately, the rise of mobile devices has been coupled with new security risks that both end users and, in enterprise settings, companies are now forced to address.
Compounding the problem is that cybercriminals have also taken note of the growing reliance on mobile devices. What consumers see as the latest and most innovative device to hit the market, hackers view as a cash cow through which to launch sophisticated cyberattacks.
For mobile users, this means they have to be more vigilant and ready for cyberthreats than ever before. But as recent research from NQ Mobile revealed, many aren’t coming through on all aspects of their data security responsibilities.
According to the company’s report, which was conducted with the National Cyber Security Alliance and released in conjunction with the upcoming Data Privacy Day, 75 percent of nearly 1,200 American mobile users polled said they are aware of threats to their devices, as well as data they access and store.
While this is a step in the right direction, other survey results revealed that users can be doing more to improve data protection.
Seventy percent of respondents said they have some type of data security measures or solutions embedded in their devices, but only 50 percent could name the specific type of security they have. Another 58 percent said they don’t know enough about threats to decide whether or not they should implement a security solution.
“Consumers of all ages, incomes and education levels are using their smartphones every day for a wide variety of activities, ranging from taking photos and sending texts and emails, to playing games, accessing social media and conducting banking,” Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, said. “Smartphones can be convenient, fun and useful – but they also collect personal information that can be hacked, lost or misused.”
However, consumers are no longer alone in their reliance on mobile devices. And while mobility is certainly nothing new for the enterprise sector, employee use of smartphones and now tablets has increased drastically during the past several years.
Tablets have grown in popularity among companies recently, with Apple’s iPad becoming something of an enterprise mobility phenomenon. Analysis conducted by Infinite Research found that tablet sales for enterprise use reached 13.6 million units last year.
That may appear to be a significant number but it pales in comparison to the 96.3 million units Infinite expects companies to purchase in 2016. Such a dramatic spike in sales will represent a compound annual growth rate of more than 48 percent between 2011 and 2016.
“Demand in the enterprise tablet space is being driven by the desire to improve employee (or member) productivity,” Infinite Research president Mark Ritorto said. “The tablet has emerged as the perfect solution to give employees access to the computing tools necessary to succeed in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.”
But the devices have also added to a storm of security threats for the enterprise. In fact, a separate survey conducted by Dimensional Research found that many organizations blame mobile device use directly for increased security issues.
Seventy-one percent of respondents to the Dimensional poll said the growth in security events they have suffered during the past two years correlates with increased smartphone and tablet use. Another 78 percent of respondents said the number of devices in use at their companies has at least doubled during this time period.
But what are companies to do in order to protect themselves, their employees, devices and data? Sanjay Beri, vice president and general manager of the Junos Pulse business unit at Juniper Networks, offered several tips in a recent report for Network World. All companies, Beri said, should focus on three aspects of security: connect, protect and control.
By connect, Beri said he means that companies should secure the way in which mobile users access the network and data. Capabilities for authentication and encryption should both be leveraged.
Protection should come in the form of actual data security solutions and measures implemented for users and their devices, while control means that companies should limit the number of devices in use among employees. Consumerization has given much of the power to end users, but Beri said companies can’t afford to relinquish all oversight and governance.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro