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Mobile Security Threats Grow with Mobile Device Penetration

Posted on Tue, Jul 01, 2014

Every year, tech venture capital leader Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers (KPCB) publishes a report on Internet trends. And every year that report serves as a snapshot that developers, investors and CIOs use to help them plan ahead and check their understanding of important trends.

This year’s report was presented by KPCB research analyst Mary Meeker at the end of May during the Code Conference. The report contains a number of important data points for IT managers, including:

  • The overall number of Internet users continues to grow in developing markets like India, Indonesia and Nigeria, but growth is down 10% and continuing to slow in the rest of the world.
  • The number of smartphone subscribers continues to grow at more than 20% per year, but the number of new subscribers is also slowing except in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil and Indonesia.
  • Tablet sales and usage is still in a stage of rapid growth, and increased more than 52% over the last year.
  • Mobile data traffic, with video as a strong driver, is accelerating at more than 81% per year.

As the number of Internet and mobile users continues to grow, more and more criminals are actively targeting them in search of data that can be stolen and turned into cash. KPCB reports that there were more than 300 active threat groups of Internet criminals targeting online users. That’s an increase of more than 400% since 2011, Meeker wrote, according to security firm Mandiant’s tracking.

Mobile_Usage_as_Percentage_of_Web_Usage_May_2014

It takes less than 15 minutes for one of these active threat groups to compromise a vulnerable system once it’s connected to the Internet, and more than 95% of data networks have been compromised in some way during the last year, Meeker said in her presentation at the Code Conference.

Attacks Targeted at Mobile Platforms Increasing

“Countries like the US, Japan, Germany, the U.K., Canada, France and Korea with more than 75% of its population on the Internet are the most vulnerable,” Meeker said, although countries with more than 45% user penetration are also at high risk of attacks targeted at mobile devices.

Countries_with_More_than_45_percent_Internet_penetration

Most of these vulnerable countries also have a high smartphone penetration of more than 50%, she added, making them especially vulnerable to the increasing number of attacks targeted at mobile platforms. Countries with the largest smartphone penetration include the UAE (160%), Saudi Arabia (110%), Sweden (94%), Australia (85%), Korea (79%), Japan (78%), U.K. (68%) and U.S. (59%).

KPCB isn’t the only firm sounding the alarm about mobile attacks. Security giant Symantec reported this spring that 38% of mobile users had experienced mobile cybercrime in the previous 12 months, but the number of targeted attacks on mobile platforms is up almost 91%. Juniper Research reports that 71% of IT managers say that endpoint attacks targeted at mobile devices are difficult to stop, and that only half of all devices in use through BYOD policies have any kind of EMM or mobile security solution installed. Juniper also reports that:

  • 71% of respondents say endpoint security threats have become more difficult to stop or mitigate in the past two years.
  • 68% say their mobile devices have been targeted by malware in the past year.
  • 41% say their enterprise has 50 or more malware attacks a month.

Even the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI have warnedof attacks targeted at specific mobile operating systems, and encouraged federal contractors to take steps to improve security on mobile devices.

What the Data Means for IT

Jared Hansen, CEO of mobile security leader Breezy, says that nothing in the recent reports is likely to deter companies from allowing BYOD. “It’s far too late to even attempt to stop most employees from bringing their mobile device into the workplace,” he says. But the continuing growth in personally-owned mobile devices in the workplace means that organizations have to get serious about enterprise mobility management (EMM) in order to protect themselves from attacks that begin on mobile devices.

“The data couldn’t be clearer,” Hansen says. “There is a direct correlation between the number of connected mobile devices and the number of attacks. It’s why we’re seeing more and more Breezy customers adopt our secure mobile printing solution as part of their overall EMM strategy, rather than as a point solution.”

Breezy partners with leading enterprise mobility management (EMM) companies to ensure mobile access to critical enterprise information without compromising security. Breezy’s secure integration with these management platforms ensures that customers can access and print content from any device, without additional security risks. Breezy is fully integrated with leading EMM solutions from AirWatch, AppSense Mobile Now, Aruba, Citrix, Good, IBM/Fiberlink MaaS360, MobileIron and Mocana.  For more information about how Breezy can work with an EMM solution to protect your data, download a datasheet or watch a video now.

 

Tags: mobile security, enterprise mobility

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