When millions of spectators, competitors and support personnel descend upon London for the Olympic Games in the coming weeks, they could be bringing the perfect storm of mobility security crises with them. From misplaced devices to insecure network activity, there are any number of ways consumers and business professionals can accidentally place sensitive information in the hands of unauthorized viewers. As a result, experts are preaching a renewed focus on data protection over device management.
Devices in the wind
According to the latest projections from encryption management specialists at Venafi, approximately 67,000 cellphones will be lost or stolen during the Olympics in London. This figure is based on the notion that 50,000 devices go missing during the average two-week period in the city and the total population will be increasing by approximately one-third for the games. This will, for example, place an additional 1 million riders on the public transit system each day.
Given that approximately 40 percent of cellphones are now Internet-enabled, Venafi analysts are expecting nearly 27,000 smartphones to be misplaced in the city during the competition. Consequently, that could put approximately 215 terabytes of information in harm's way.
"There's been an explosion of corporate data available to users from their mobile devices. This is a real danger and one that is often overlooked," Venafi vice president of marketing Gregory Webb explained. "With the ever-shrinking boundaries between work devices and work-enabled personal devices, lost or stolen smartphones and other mobile devices that fall into the wrong hands place companies and business data at tremendous risk."
But even if mobile devices never leave the possession of their rightful owners, cybercriminals are sure to be laying complex traps to exploit data from separate angles.
Mobile malware on the rise
Although the Olympics are meant to serve as a platform for recognizing athletic achievement, it could also become the informal proving ground for elite cybercriminals to test their skills as well.
One of the most likely avenues for Olympic-inspired data security threats could be malware-infested mobile applications. With fans around the world looking for fast and easy ways to check results and stream live competition video from their mobile devices, hackers are sure to be embedding malicious components in fraudulent, third-party apps. As a result, cybercrime prevention experts from ThreatMatrix have advised device owners to be particularly diligent in downloading utilities that are sanctioned and approved by Olympic organizers in legitimate software markets.
Two more popular hacking tactics to watch out for will be information phishing and search engine poisoning. Such threats are particularly prevalent surrounding news and events of global importance, when cybercriminals have a clear understanding of what web surfers are most likely to be searching for.
According to ThreatMatrix, hackers could lay traps that redirect browsers to malicious websites once a link to more information on a popular athlete has been clicked. Alternatively, cybercriminals could target users directly with social media postings that contain fraudulent links.
"All of the cybercrime risk associated with the Olympics can be overwhelming to consumers; however, simple steps can be taken to avoid malware attacks," ThreatMatrix chief technology officer Andreas Baumhof explained. "These steps include keeping all software up to date, using only official Olympic sites and applications and being hyperaware of all web and mobile device activity."
Data security takes priority
While an awareness of mobile device management best practices remains essential, business professionals must also have a failsafe plan that addresses worst-case scenarios. If a device were to go missing or acquire a malware infection, containerization and encryption strategies can significantly limit the associated damage. Remote wipe capabilities also provide an important insurance policy to help firms satisfy data security priorities even after devices have gone off the corporate grid.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro