Cybercriminals, hacktivists, malware on the rise — and targeting smart phones, tablets

Smart Phones

Even smartphones can fall victim to hacking.

Nowadays, professionals in every line of business are using their personal devices — laptops, smart phones, tablets — for work.

The phenomenon is often called BYOD — Bring Your Own Device. It was inevitable, when you think about it. Businesses, especially small businesses, have to make every dollar count, and owners jump at the chance to save money on equipment costs. Plus, cloud computing and the mainstreaming of smart phones and tablets have made in-house business networks largely unnecessary.

Just as inevitable, though: The rise of cybercriminals, malware developers and so-called “hacktivists” who are rapidly taking advantage of this proliferation of mobile devices. The risk to personal data is bad enough, but when employees use their iPads and Androids to play games and read novels on nights and weekends and process sensitive business data during the day … it poses serious security risks that companies only now are beginning to address.

The threat opens an opportunity for managed service technology providers who can fill the void with procedures and systems that can protect business data across platforms and devices. The BYOD trend will only grow as technology does, and so will bad actors who will constantly come up with new ways to swipe data from devices with sub-par security.

Companies certainly recognize the need for securing their data, but many IT departments are lagging in their response to the threat. A recent Deloitte survey of 138 global technology, media and telecommunications firms named mobile devices as the top security risk, and three-quarters of the companies surveyed reported information security breaches.

Experts in the mobile security field have charted an explosion in malware that targets mobile devices, placing the security of the data they carry at risk. The three big developments, according to Juniper Networks’ 2011 Mobile Threats Report, released in February:

Owners of mobile devices endured a record number of mobile malware attacks in 2011, especially on the Google Android platform. From the report: “The combination of Google Android’s dominant market share and the lack of control over the applications appearing in the various Android application stores created a perfect storm, giving malware developers the means and incentive to focus on the platform.”

“Malicious actors” are developing more, better and more sophisticated malware as time passes and mobile technology grows.

Apps can kill. The development of mobile apps creates multiple portals for the Trojan horses of viruses and malware to enter. “As we have seen a boom in the number of application developers,” the report says, “we have also seen a flood in the number of attackers.”

The security risks are especially worrisome to small business owners, who depend largely on employees using their own mobile devices and who can ill afford to lose business data — nearly half of all small businesses that lose their data never reopen, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

CMIT Solutions is well aware of the threats to data security in mobile devices. We specialize in technology solutions for small businesses, and we offer managed service packages designed to keep small business technology running and data safe for regular, predictable monthly rates that allow business owners to budget with confidence.

Want to know more about our small business technology services? See www.cmitsolutions.com or www.cmitfranchise.com.