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The Main Types of Mobile Security Threats to Business, and How to Prevent Them

With smartphones as ubiquitous as ever, it’s no surprise how crucial their role in business is these days. But with the increase in employees using smartphones and tablets for work-related purposes, it brings with it a host of new security concerns – from unsecured networks to data loss.

Corporate breaches can affect a business dearly, and the threats that were once confined to computers have now set up shop on your phone. And now that cyber criminals are targeting these handheld devices more often, you need to do more than merely use virus protection software – businesses need to be mindful of their mobile security practices to steer clear of threats.

To help you optimise your security, here are the main types of mobile security threats that could affect your business, along with how to prevent them from happening.

The different categories of mobile security threats

Rather than being a single, shapeless danger lurking in the deepest, darkest recesses of your phone, mobile security threats take many forms, including the below:

The 7 most common kinds of mobile security threats

1. Malicious apps

Ever downloaded an app and been required to agree to a list of permissions before it’s yours? You probably gave them a cursory glance before moving on with the download. Unfortunately, thumbing your nose at the fine print leaves devices and businesses open to threats. Even if the app works fine, the potential to harvest corporate data before sending it to a third party is still there. At which point, sensitive product or business information has already been shared.

How can you prevent it?

If your employees are in the habit of downloading apps, then ask them to check the permissions request thoroughly. If the list of permissions seems too invasive, then it’s probably not worth downloading.

2. Spyware

Both Android and iOS devices are targeted by threats that focus on mining user data and private corporate data. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, both operating systems were subject to attacks; Apple was forced to release a patch with updates to protect against the attacks, while Android users can use Google’s Play Protect to guard against future data breaches.

How can you prevent it?

Choose a mobile security app and make sure all of your employees download it onto their devices, and update their device software regularly to further safeguard things. Spyware threats are constantly evolving and developing, so regular updates will ensure their devices stay protected against even the latest attacks.

3. Public WiFi

With remote working here for the foreseeable, access to unsecured WiFi is becoming more widely available in public places. Good news for those working from home, but bad news for businesses, who are now vulnerable to attacks sent through these networks.

This is because instead of connecting directly to a network, people are fooled into accessing a network that looks authentic but has been set up by a hacker who has connected to a company’s web server. Be wary of any network that asks you to create an account with a username and password to access it; these are usually phoney.

How can you prevent it?

Have employees create unique passwords for every new account they create when they use their mobile devices. Hackers assume people use the same password for everything, so employees should resist using one default login for their personal accounts.

4. Lack of end-to-end encryption

Skimping on security for mobile devices can create numerous problems in the long run. Considering the amount of information that’s uploaded to apps, failing to put the necessary safeguards in place is something of a foregone conclusion. The lack of encryption, particularly on your communication apps, means that everyone is free to look at what’s being said or done in your company, whether they’re hackers or not.

How can you prevent it?

Use communication apps that encrypt data transfers to ensure your communication with others can’t be accessed by anyone outside of the business. An encryption-based application can help in this area.

5. Lack of password protection

Even something as straightforward as not locking your phone with a password can create issues with security. If your device lacks a password, then it’ll be no problem to access the information should it fall into the wrong hands.

And sometimes, when these passwords do exist, they’re so unimaginative that thieves can easily guess them after a few attempts. Common passwords like 1234qwerty and the ever-popular password pose no challenge to people trying to access your device. Strong passwords with numbers, lower- and upper-case letters and special characters are far harder to guess. Thinking up something that’s specific to you is essential.

How can you prevent it?

Should employees need to access the business’ data using their own devices, then make sure your identity access management requirements are easy to understand. Ensure that their passwords contain capitals, numbers or even special characters, and use 2-factor authentication if you need extra security.

6. Phishing attacks

Another common threat, phishing involves hackers sending what are, at first glance, legitimate emails to get employees to hand over private information. This happens when cyber criminals do a “deep search” for the email addresses contained within your organisation. Publicly available email addresses are then used to launch phishing attacks on as many employees as possible.

How can you prevent it?

Businesses need to have clear processes in place for employees to follow should they spot any red flags or suspicious activity. Ensure your employees are aware of these common warning signs:

7. Lost and stolen devices

Even with all the methods that hackers use, as well as the safeguards put in place at your end, you may end up falling victim to old-fashioned theft. Users tend to stay logged in on their device’s apps; should devices fall into the wrong hands, thieves won’t have to figure out any passwords to unlock data.

How can you prevent it?

Luckily, most Android and Apple devices let users delete information remotely to avoid others illegally accessing it. Apple devices specifically have a Lost Mode, where the phone can be locked and tracked in the event that it goes missing. Make sure your employees are up to speed on how to access these measures.

The best free mobile phone security apps

If your business is on a budget but still needs to protect itself against the slew of mobile security threats out there, then rest assured: there is an array of effective and inexpensive security apps that can keep you and your employees safe as you carry out your duties. We’ll take a look at some of the best Android and iOS apps available below.

Note: Virus scanning isn’t possible on iOS. In fact, viruses don’t do anything to iOS devices. When people refer to “antivirus for iOS”, what they actually mean is “internet security for iOS”. That said, iOS devices are still susceptible to a lot of the threats mentioned above, which is why security apps are essential if you’re an iOS user.

For Android

McAfee Mobile Security

When it comes to protection from phishing and malware, McAfee’s offering is one of the best free apps available. Strengthened against a range of viruses, its firewall can block hackers from accessing your home network, while its 256-bit encryption safeguards your most sensitive files and stores them in one handy place.

AVG

Thorough and easy to use, AVG’s smartphone antivirus program takes care of all manner of spyware, viruses, and malware, keeping your device safe from threats at the click of a button. With added protection from SMS and email spammers to weed out phishing attempts and other phoney messages, there’s even a lock capability that keeps your phone protected if it’s stolen or lost.

Norton Mobile Security

Offering an extensive level of online privacy, Norton’s free app scans and removes harmful apps that slow down performance, protects your contact information, and prevents your personal data being shared with the websites you’ve visited. And if anyone attempts to remove the sim card, the app knows to lock your phone – an essential deterrent should your device fall into the wrong hands.

For iOS

Avira

Offering more features than other free iOS apps, Avira’s offering is a must. Along with anti-theft protection, a network scanner and contacts backup, its Privacy Manager is especially useful if you use the same device for work and at home. Through the feature you can stop Siri from logging commands on Apple’s servers, preventing the amount of personal data that websites can harvest from you.

TotalAV

Another extensive security app, TotalAV offers most of its features for free. For one, its web browser uses DuckDuckGo, a privacy-forward search engine that lets you access the web without being tracked or targeted by advertisers. Elsewhere, its breach scanning features come in useful too, allowing you to scan for emails that may have been compromised and could be used against you in the future.

For more of the latest news, guides and features from the CDL team, click here to visit our blog. If you’d like to find out more about our IT disposal solutions, visit our homepage or call our team now on 0333 060 5623.

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