The rise in popularity and usage of mobile computing “devices” from smartphones to tablets to more fully-fledged laptops has been unprecedented. In many ways it has epitomised much of how we have come to regard technology in general over the last decade. But has confidence in our new personal computing power brought with it complacency at the same time?
Let’s look at the facts. AVG’s own SMB Market Landscape report found that almost three quarters of small to medium sized business do NOT agree that the use of mobile phones in business represents a threat to IT security.
With this blithe (or at least unconcerned) attitude in mind, consider the fact that IT analyst firm Forrester has said that mobile development has been a top five initiative in 2011 for nearly all enterprises. A recent survey by the analyst firm showed that more than 50% of enterprises are most interested in using mobile applications or mobile optimized web sites to reach out to their customers. In other words, mobile is growing.
Cyber criminals aren’t stupid
Now as you probably know, cyber criminals aren’t stupid and they tend to go for the low hanging fruit first. We’ve been here before if you think about it. Malware and viral attacks of all forms first targeted Windows due to the wide installed base of users that existed. Then, over time, other platforms including Linux and Apple Mac OS X started to come under fire as more users adopted these other computing “paradigms”, or environments if you prefer.
Follow the argument through and it’s not hard to work out the next most logical target for purveyors of malware to target. If the fastest route to users’ information assets, intellectual property and identity is targeting mobile devices now powerful enough to store (or channel access to) this data, then that is where malware developers will naturally gravitate towards.
To compound this problem, mobile devices offer users a route to using some of the most “risky” computing services that exist. Social networks have been notoriously hijacked with obfuscated (disguised) links to dangerous external web sites. Users naturally have their defences lowered when talking to “friends” inside these networks. But these very friends may have already had their profiles compromised and used to host the onward dissemination of malicious content.
Again looking outward from Windows to explain how broad and multifarious the malware landscape is today, the “almost un-moderated” Android Market has been subject to a Trojan rootkit attack during 2011. This malware used so-called “backdoor” techniques to infect users who had downloaded applications with legitimate sounding names. Some 50,000 users were affected and “factory resets” were advised even after the apps were removed.
So are we placing some sort of blind faith in mobile computing devices today? AVG suggests strongly that the answer to this question is yes. Whether this is because we still think of smartphones as “phones” rather than computers, whether it is because we still consider the traditional desktop PC as the most likely place to see a virus, or whether it is because we simply haven’t stopped to think about it yet – the reality is that mobile threats are here, they are real and they can be extremely damaging.
At this risk of sounding like a road safety traffic accident commercial, please don’t become yet another statistic. Help us wake up our collective business and consumer consciousness to this issue today.