Tactical Advice

Is Your Business Taking the Threat of Mobile Malware Seriously?

Don’t underestimate the damage that malware proprietors can unleash if the right security policies aren’t in place.
Is Your Business Taking the Threat of Mobile Malware Seriously?
Credit: Hemera/ThinkStockPhotos

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs and cloud computing — two of the biggest enterprise trends from the last couple of years — go hand in hand. Employees want to be given the latitude to use their smartphones for work, and they want to have round-the-clock access to data and applications.

For businesses, there are obvious advantages to both cloud computing and BYOD programs in terms of cost savings, schedule flexibility and improved efficiency — but there is also risk. CDW’s 2013 State of the Cloud Report indicates that 46 percent of the IT decision-makers polled have concerns about the security of proprietary data or applications.

Despite those concerns, the consumerization of IT shows no signs of slowing. A recent Gartner survey found that 70 percent of survey respondents are planning to create BYOD policies within the next year.

Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner, points out that just as BYOD transforms the enterprise, it must also transform the mobile-security mindset.

“Shifting from an enterprise-owned mobile device fleet to having employees bringing their own devices has a major impact on the way of thinking and acting about mobile security,” he says. “Policies and tools initially put in place to deal with mobile devices offering consumer-grade security must be revised to deal with these devices being under the ultimate control of a private user, rather than the organization.”

Isn’t Mobile Malware a Consumer Problem?

Predictions about the growing threat of malware in mobile computing have been consistent, but it has largely been perceived as a consumer threat.

Android, Google’s mobile platform, is the main target because its market share is over 70 percent, according to Strategy Analytics. Google’s open-door policy with its Google Play store has allowed many unsavory proprietors to spread their malware across the Android ecosystem. Unfortunately, the belief that the risk of malware infiltration has been exaggerated has led to a boy-who-cried-wolf indifference to the mobile-malware threat.

But no business should get too comfortable, because a diverse, evolving wave of new malware is emerging, intent on mobile espionage and privacy invasion.

While many malware proprietors are still focused on the desktop, they’re not ignoring the BYOD trend. The possibility that the wolf will show up in your company should be taken seriously.

Is Your Business Safe?

Without a sensible usage policy in place, and mobile device management software to actually enforce it, businesses may unnecessarily expose themselves to risk.

For starters, are your employees using password security on their devices? Is there a lock-screen time-out or a limit to the number of times a wrong password can be entered? Employees may visit dubious websites or inadvertently install apps that contain malware. Does your company use any malware-detection or antitheft tools to sniff out intruders?

Businesses should maintain ownership over company data that is on an employee’s device. Remote lock and remote wipe functionality, if a device is lost, are two good features to start with on that front. However, the legality of wiping an employee’s device is still being questioned, and strictly targeting business data for deletion can be difficult.

What Is the Malware Threat to the Enterprise?

Device theft and loss are obvious concerns for any company, but a hacker can use malware to collect all of the details needed to access your network. They may not even use the device itself as a gateway, but merely leverage it as a way of obtaining the keys to the kingdom. This kind of data theft could go unnoticed until there has been a substantial loss.

That’s why it is critical that businesses first recognize the threat and then assess their exposure and deal with it by educating staff and implementing a solid mobile device management policy.

Sign up for our e-newsletter

About the Author

Michelle Drolet

Michelle Drolet is the founder of Towerwall, a data-security services provider and value-added reseller in Framingham, Mass. She can be contacted at michelled@towerwall.com.

Security

Heartbleed: What Should Your... |
One of the biggest security vulnerabilities has almost every user and every industry...
Why Businesses Need a Next-G... |
Devices investigate patterns that could indicate malicious activity.
Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....

Storage

The New Backup Utility Proce... |
Just getting used to the Windows 8 workflow? Prepare for a change.
How to Perform Traditional W... |
With previous versions going unused, Microsoft radically reimagined the backup utility in...
5 Easy Ways to Build a Bette... |
While large enterprises have the resources of an entire IT department behind them, these...

Infrastructure Optimization

Businesses Must Step Careful... |
Slow and steady wins the race as businesses migrate IT operations to service providers,...
Why Cloud Security Is More E... |
Cloud protection services enable companies to keep up with security threats while...
Ensure Uptime Is in Your Dat... |
Power and cooling solutions support disaster recovery and create cost savings and...

Networking

Securing the Internet of Thi... |
As excitement around the connected-device future grows, technology vendors seek ways to...
How to Maximize WAN Bandwidt... |
Understand six common problems that plague wide area networks — and how to address them.
Linksys Makes a Comeback in... |
The networking vendor introduced several new Smart Switch products at Interop this week.

Mobile & Wireless

Mobility: A Foundational Pie... |
Other technologies rely on mobile computing, which has the power to change lives, Lextech...
Now that Office for iPad Is... |
After waiting awhile for Microsoft’s productivity suite to arrive, professionals who use...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.

Hardware & Software

Review: HP TippingPoint S105... |
Next-generation firewall can easily replace a stand-alone intrusion prevention system....
New Challenges in Software M... |
IT trends such as cloud, virtualization and BYOD pose serious hurdles for software...
Visualization Can Help Busin... |
Companies need to put their data in formats that make it consumable anytime, anywhere.