7 Interesting Security Threats to Mobile Devices
Oct 19, 2022 | 42Gears Team
Mobile devices have become a significant part of many organizations’ IT infrastructures. The shift to remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made mobile devices a convenient choice for many employees. However, mobile devices are vulnerable to serious cybersecurity risks. According to Check Point’s Mobile Security Report 2021, mobile security threats are on the rise. 97% of organizations now face mobile threats from several attack vectors due to the widespread adoption of remote working. Additionally, the survey shows that at least 40% of mobile devices worldwide are intrinsically susceptible to cyberattacks. This means that, with the increase in use of mobile devices, IT teams will have an increased number and wider range of devices to secure and protect.
Typically, there are four main categories of cyber threats - application-based threats, web-based mobile security threats, mobile network security threats, and mobile device security threats. Let’s look at the top 7 security threats to mobile devices and ways to safeguard against them:
Suspicious Apps and Websites
Malicious apps come in the form of free or enterprise-signed apps found in official app stores. Their objective is to transfer personal or corporate data to a remote server where cybercriminals can mine it. These applications can even redirect your devices to more malicious sites, creating a cascading effect that could impact your life.
People tend to use free wireless hotspots wherever they find one and ignore the fact that most of the free Wi-Fi connections are unsecured. This happens mostly in high-traffic public places such as coffee shops, libraries, and airports. Hackers put up fake access points—connections that seem like Wi-Fi networks but are actually traps. It is one of the easiest places for hackers to get users' personal data. There is a high chance that users’ personal data will be stolen when their devices are connected to unprotected Wi-Fi networks even for simple tasks such as creating a social network account, sending money through UPIs, or during VoIP calls.
As most mobile devices are always kept powered on, they have a high chance of being hacked. Cybercriminals may send your employees emails (phishing attacks) or text messages (smishing attacks) to try to trick them into giving out personal information like passwords or installing malware on their devices. A CSO poll found that security risks are higher for mobile users because they often check their email in real time, opening and reading messages as soon as they arrive. Email apps on mobile devices show less information because the screens are smaller. This makes users more vulnerable. Users usually click on malicious links without knowing it because the content of emails isn't always clear on smaller screens. This makes it easy for hackers to access sensitive information.
Intercepting Network Communications
A man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack is when an attacker intercepts network communications to either listen in or change the data being sent. While numerous systems may be vulnerable to this kind of attack, mobile devices are particularly prone to MitM attacks. Web traffic often uses encrypted HTTPS to talk to each other, but SMS messages are easy to intercept, and mobile apps may use unencrypted HTTP to send (sensitive) information.
Attacks due to Poor Password
This usually happens when an employee sets poor passwords to access the company’s VPN using personal devices. The fact that the same password is used for both personal and work accounts on the same device is a major security risk for organizations. It helps a cybercriminal to breach your systems easily. These attacks can then lead to credential-based brute force cyberattacks such as credential stuffing or password spraying, because bad actors can use poor or stolen credentials to access sensitive data through a company’s mobile apps.
Outdated OS exploits
Oftentimes, cybersecurity is mostly focused on top-level software, which makes the lower-level software easier to hack. If the operating system (OS) of a mobile device is out of date, cybercriminals find a way to take advantage of it. Jailbreaking and rooting are ways to get administrator access to an iOS or Android device. Attackers use bugs in mobile operating systems to get root access to these devices. Often, such attacks are more damaging compared to the higher-level ones, as they exist below and outside the visibility of a device’s security solutions.
Loss or Theft of Mobile Devices
Device theft and loss are not recent problems for enterprises. But since most employees access their company's network remotely from public places like cafes and coffee shops and use a wider range of devices, it's easy for devices to be stolen or lost.
What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Devices Against Mobile Security Threats?
Mobile security threats to mobile devices are both rising in number and evolving in scope. To keep devices and data safe, companies and employees need to know where common threats come from and be ready for the next wave of malicious activities.
By using a strong MDM solution, they can get full safety coverage that goes beyond desktops and laptops to protect mobile devices, IoT devices, and other places where people connect to the internet. SureMDM by 42Gears is a robust MDM solution that works exceedingly well on all OSes, including Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows, Linux, macOS, Wear OS, VR, and IoT platforms. For more information on SureMDM, please click here.