Mobile security: Emerging new challenges

The rising use of mobile devices among employees is forcing organizations to rethink their security strategies

By: Ashok Kumar, MD and CEO, RAH Infotech

Ashok Kumar MD and CEO RAH Infotech

 

Mobile devices have entered the enterprise in a big way. Most employees find them more handy and easy to use while they’re on the move. It not only allows them to collaborate with other team members, but also enables quick access to mails or other important documents. However, it is this ease of access that has also made the mobile device more vulnerable to security breaches. It has brought in a whole new set of challenges that the IT team needs to address.
One cannot deny the fact that mobiles have increased work efficiency and flexibility, and have also created more opportunities for engaging with customers. Therefore it has become important for organizations to allow their employees to leverage the operational benefits of mobile devices. At the same time they need to enhance data protection and ensure adequate safety for themselves as well as their customers.

Developing a Mobile Security Strategy
A mobile security strategy surely cannot follow a ‘one size fits all’ approach. A careful assessment of the organization’s needs would be required to identify the critical assets or data that needs greater protection. A priority-based approach could be followed to avoid too many unnecessary security walls that would consume more bandwidth and slow down your systems.
While defining a mobile security strategy it is also important to have clarity on the mobile malware that can be really harmful for your organization. There are a plethora of mobile apps that may not be very relevant or useful, but they cannot be qualified as ‘dangerous’. Quite often the fear of mobile malware is exaggerated and could be more a result of lack of understanding. Organizations are also realizing the fact that their traditional security infrastructure may not be relevant in the new mobile world. They have to look beyond the regular anti-virus software or antimalware solutions. With employees using multiple operating systems and mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Windows etc.), it would be a good idea to choose a cross-platform security solution that covers all the major OS.

What Can be Really Dangerous
The most vulnerable zones where cyber criminals are likely to target mobile devices could be Wi-Fi hotspots in hotels or other locations outside the office premises. Attackers usually look for such vulnerable zones where their chances of success are higher and they know they’re likely to find some sensitive business data or information that could be utilized.
Mobile users must also avoid getting caught by fake mast stations that look legitimate. In fact, an increasing number of smartphone manufacturers, carriers, app developers and service providers have also started leveraging on their databases and customer information to make more money. This is a worrying trend as most of these companies do have a lot of data that could be misused.
Apart from unwanted malware, weak spots or manipulated attacks, another very important aspect that security teams may want to look at is user behavior. It has been often observed that many times employees unknowingly share a lot of information with outsiders. In order to prevent such leakages, it is important to include ‘employee sensitivity’ as an important part of any security strategy.

Keeping up with Business
Even as security teams look for the right solutions to safeguard their organizations from increasing mobile threats, they cannot ignore the beneficial aspect of mobile devices. Business executives are increasingly getting hooked to these devices and they are becoming the preferred means of conducting most transactions. With the younger generation joining the workforce, this trend is only going to increase. Going forward IT administrators will have to devise simpler ways of providing mobile access to their workforce. Therefore, your mobile security strategy would need to continuously evolve with emerging new threats and growing business needs.

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