Mobile Security – Why you can’t overlook the growing threat

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The rise of home working is leading to a boom in the use of mobile devices for work purposes - and this brings with it a new range of security issues.

How we work has changed hugely over the last year, but while the rise in home working has brought many benefits to businesses and employees alike – from reduced commuting costs to better productivity – it also brings new issues.

One of the biggest issues will be ensuring your mobile data and applications are safe. This can be challenging enough in a traditional office environment, but when you have employees who are outside your network’s perimeter, this becomes even trickier. The task is often made even harder when people are using devices you have little or no control over – especially mobile devices.

The rise of mobile as a primary work device

The use of mobile devices in the workplace has been hugely increased by the move to home working, and this isn’t likely to change any time soon. Almost half of the UK workforce moved to remote working in the first lockdown, and all the signs are this won’t be a temporary solution that gets left behind post-Covid.

According to YouGov, 57% of people would like to continue working from home on a permanent basis, with 18% wanting to be able to do this full time, while 39% favour a mixed environment where they split their time between home and the office.

This means there will be a huge increase in the variety of devices used to access work applications and data. While the majority of the time, people are likely to remain using traditional devices – especially if they have been provided with work-issued laptops – the use of tools such as smartphones and tablets will also grow where it’s more convenient.

For instance, an employee working remotely may feel comfortable switching to their personal mobile device to ensure they keep in touch while away from their desk, or be more prepared to check up on their work emails from the sofa out of hours or on their lunch break.

For those moving to a mix of home and office working, the use of mobile tools will be especially useful as they can access them whether they are at home, at work or on the commute.

While some firms provide dedicated business mobile devices for use outside the office, the majority of workers still rely on personally-owned gadgets. Sometimes these are managed by the business as part of a bring your own device (BYOD), but they may often have no controls at all. And in the current environment, where many companies have been forced to implement home working with little planning or preparation, this can cause a wide range of problems.

Addressing the security threats mobile creates

One of the biggest issues will be that there is much less separation between personal and business usage. This may mean, for example, employees are switching between accessing work emails, checking personal bank statements, logging into business applications and downloaded apps like games.

As a result, it may be far easier for threats to find their way onto mobile devices than in more tightly-controlled corporate environments. This is compounded by the fact that in many cases, these personally-owned mobile devices lack even basic protections to guard against security issues.

According to Kaspersky, for example, 47 per cent of people don’t put security software on their personal smartphones, leaving them open to everything from malware to data leakage.

What’s more, many people still believe mobile devices are not subject to the same vulnerabilities as traditional desktop and laptop PCs. Kaspersky found one in five UK employees believe their phone can’t be hacked.

This is something criminals are acutely aware of. One study by Skybox Research, for example, revealed there has been a 50% increase in mobile vulnerabilities in 2020 as hackers refocus their efforts. Meanwhile, Action Fraud reported almost 14,000 incidents of Covid-19-related fraud by July. It noted that banking scams – where transactions are increasingly managed via mobile devices – were particularly prevalent.

To tackle these growing threats, it’s vital that mobile devices are given the same priority as desktop and laptop PCs when it comes to security. This means businesses must have effective control over any movie device used to access corporate data or applications.

If people are going to continue using personal devices, this will mean the development of a clear BYOD policy that allows businesses access to personal items and allows for the use of effective mobile device management software.

Without this, firms will be unable to see vulnerabilities or protect their assets from threats. And in today’s increasingly mobile-focused world, this is a security hole that could prove very costly.

Learn more about Business Mobile Security

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