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Stay Cyber-Secure - How to Protect Your Business from Mobile Hacking

Written by Kevin Liew on 21 May 2018
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It wasn’t that long ago that mobile applications were just starting out. Back then, most mobile apps were just for fun-- photo booths, arcade games, and all sorts of other ways to entertain yourself. However that changed quickly, and today we rely on mobile applications for work as well as play. In addition to having their own applications, many businesses take advantage of applications that allow them to manage everything from finances to slideshows to spreadsheets of sensitive information on the go, which provides a massive flexibility and productivity boost. The only problem? Most applications aren’t as secure as they should be.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to keep your business safe and prevent mobile cybersecurity attacks:

  • What application security means for your business
  • Types of cybersecurity threats
  • Strategies for keeping your company secure

As our favorite technologies shift from desktop computers to mobile devices, hackers change their strategies and cybersecurity threats are evolve.

What is mobile hacking, anyway?

The Next Generation of Cybersecurity Threats

It may come as a surprise that, broadly speaking, hacking is often defined simply as creative problem solving. The image most of us have in our heads of what a hacker is and does-- the sinister individual in a dark room typing frantically at a bay of computer monitors, wreaking havoc on an unsuspecting business somewhere-- has been fed by Hollywood dramas for decades.

While this fails to take into account harmless hackers-- think growth hackers, life hackers, and even computer hackers who use their technical savvy to identify and eliminate holes in a company’s cybersecurity plan-- there are people out there who use creative problem solving to get their hands on information they shouldn’t have. Those are the hackers we’re concerned about.

For a long time, hackers primarily targeted computers because that was the device most people used. But times are changing. As of 2016, mobile internet usage surpassed desktop internet usage, and it’s likely that trend will continue as mobile devices continue to become more pervasive, less expensive, and easier to use.

That means hackers have a new target-- mobile devices.

What does that mean for your business?

It’s gotten increasingly difficult to separate work from home. We use the same devices, passwords, and sometimes even the same accounts across personal and professional applications. That means your company doesn’t just have to protect against attacks to business-owned mobile devices-- you have to be aware of threats to your employee’s personal devices too. If someone’s personal smartphone is compromised by a cybersecurity threat, any information related to your company that is on that device-- confidential emails, login information, files-- are at risk, too.

Our world is more mobile than ever before. That means great things for workplace performance and flexibility, but it can also mean increased cybersecurity risks.

Cybersecurity Threats 101: How Attacks Happen

Before we jump into how to protect your business from mobile hacking, let’s take a minute to cover how hackers can compromise a mobile device. Generally speaking, they have three options:

  • The device
  • The network
  • Applications

Each of these things can be compromised in a variety of ways. Here are some of the most common.

Malware

This includes threats such as Trojans, worms, viruses, and any other software created with malicious intent. These programs use tools like key-logging, spyware, and bonets to obtain confidential information.

Metadata

Your company probably uses metadata every day to gather information about how people-- specifically your customers-- behave. Hackers can use metadata much the same way to track people and take advantage of their information.

Applications

Apple’s motto “There’s an app for that!” is true. There are applications for everything from making to-do lists and ordering your morning coffee to connecting with friends and learning new skills. Unfortunately, some applications are designed by hackers to gain access to a mobile device’s system and user information.

Even more unfortunately, even completely legitimate applications come with their fair share of cybersecurity risk. From banking institutions to major retailers, any company who doesn’t fully secure their application puts your information at risk of being exposed.

How do you keep your company from being compromised? Simple solutions like mobile device management and following cybersecurity best practice go a long way.

Simple Ways to Stop Mobile Hacking from Affecting Your Business

Mobile Device Management Services

Many IT providers offer a variety of managed services, and if you want to protect against mobile hacking, mobile device management is a great way to go. It gives you access to cybersecurity experts who will give you a mobile cybersecurity safetynet with features like:

  • Encryption
  • Network access controls
  • Virus protection
  • Remote lock and data wipe
  • Separation of personal and business content via containerization
  • Selective device data wipes
  • Network access policy enforcement and management

Up Your Authentication Game

Do you know who’s accessing your company’s sensitive information? Are you sure? Access management is a simple way to cut cybersecurity risks across devices. If only the people who absolutely must have access to sensitive files or data, then there are fewer accounts and devices for hackers to target than if everybody has access to everything.

Encourage Cybersecurity Best Practices

There are plenty of ways for you and everyone involved in your company to be proactive in the cybersecurity of their personal and work devices. Incorporate cybersecurity best practices into your employee code of conduct, or better yet, consider hosting trainings on cybersecurity best practices such as:

  • Determining if an app is safe or not before download
  • Changing passwords regularly
  • Not sharing passwords/ using the same password for multiple accounts
  • Backing up data
  • Opening email attachments only from known senders
  • Monitoring accounts for suspicious activity
  • Don’t leave devices unattended while logged in/ unlocked
  • Avoid sharing personal information online or in apps

There are plenty of easy steps you can take to secure all of your mobile devices and protect your business today.

As mobile devices become a more and more popular option for work and play, mobile hacking is a cybersecurity risk that we all have to understand and accept. This crash course in mobile hacking and these tips will help you get started protecting your business from mobile threats. How will you protect your business? Let us know in the comments below!

 
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