More consumers are buying mobile phones than ever before. But it's not all good news for IT. As many as 50 percent of mobile phone users do not use any security solutions, according to a recent report from security firm Symantec. With mobile phone usage on the rise, and an increased number of organizations opting for a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, this has serious implications for enterprise security.
The main areas that fall under threat are data, identity and service availability. Today, most mobile phones - like smartphones - store personal and professional data. This could range from credit card information and passwords to important phone numbers of both personal and business contacts. Further, rapid developments in sensor technology are fast making it an important source of personal identity. If this is not sufficient damage, the loss of a mobile phone, could also mean that key executives are out of reach at a time when you most need them in a 24/7 world.
Besides, security threats are not limited to the physical loss of a mobile phone. Even during regular use, mobile phones users need to be safeguarded from inadvertently downloading harmful apps or spyware. In fact, Symantec estimates that as many as 44 percent of mobile phone users received text messages from an unknown source inviting them to click on embedded link, dial an unfamiliar number or retrieve a voicemail. Clearly, with the use of spyware and other viruses targeting mobile phones on the increase, there needs to be greater awareness among users. At stake, is both personal and enterprise security.
How do users ensure that they have the security that they need in a mobile world? To begin with, a complete mobile security solution needs to cater to different aspects of mobile device management. At the most basic level, users require to protect their security and privacy. But beyond this, mobile security solutions need to provide for information back up and device tracking facilities. Going well beyond mere crisis management, the complete mobile security solution also provides for day-to-day device and data management.
Yet, while simple security solutions that cater to these requirements are already available in the market, they don't seem to have grabbed the attention of either individuals or corporations. Only 12 percent of smartphone users considered built-in security features while buying their device, reveals a 2012 technology survey. Even more worrying was the finding that 55 percent of the respondents did not have a corporate usage policy for mobile devices, according to another Ponemon Institute survey in 2012.
But as more users flock to mobile devices, cybercriminals have none of the wary uncertainty being displayed by large corporations. According to the McAfee Threats Report, mobile malware increased by a whopping 46 percent between 2009 and 2010.
Clearly, corporations have not yet responded to the challenges of a mobile world adequately. But forward-looking organizations can still modify corporate policy and secure their enterprises to ride the mobility wave.
Consumers have already embraced the mobility revolution. Corporation's speed at policy formulation will decide their participation.