10 Mobile Security Issues That Should Worry You

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-02-11 Print this article Print

This year, manufacturers will ship more than 1 billion Android devices, and Apple has already said that 2014 could be a banner year for iPhone and iPad sales. Based on mobile device sales and adoption alone, one might think that it's smooth sailing ahead for the mobile industry and its customers. But there is a dark side to this success story. The security risks associated with smartphones and tablets are nothing short of scary. In just the last few months, we've heard reports from research companies saying that mobile devices will be the biggest security risk in 2014; that employees' smartphones and tablets will be a major security risk inside enterprises; and that a majority of popular applications have security holes just waiting to be exploited. Last year, the U.S. government even warned that Android devices are a major threat to personal and corporate security. All of that, combined with the recent news that popular mobile app Snapchat has a flaw that can cause iPhones to crash and provide a gateway for denial-of-service attacks, is enough to scare anybody who has to deal with mobile device and software security. Here are some of the mobile security issues that should worry you.

  • 10 Mobile Security Issues That Should Worry You

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - 10 Mobile Security Issues That Should Worry You
  • Apps Aren't Secure

    Here's a staggering statistic: 92 percent of the top 500 Android apps carry either a security or privacy risk, according to recent data from security firm MetaIntell. But it's not just Android. As noted, Snapchat, among several other apps, suffers from its own security issues on iOS. At this point, it appears apps—regardless of platform—aren't nearly as secure as one would hope.
    2 - Apps Aren't Secure
  • Follow the Hackers

    Last year, in its annual security report, Sophos revealed that Android, not Windows, is the world's most targeted platform among hackers. That report came after it was revealed that an increasing number of hackers were intentionally targeting iOS far more than all other mobile operating systems, save for Android. If the hackers are moving to mobile, both Android and iOS users should be scared—very scared.
    3 - Follow the Hackers
  • Communications Is a Target

    Communications has become a major target for hackers around the world. In fact, over the last year or so, we've been hearing several reports from security firms, saying that SMS is among the top ways for hackers to break into mobile devices and steal information. The hackers achieve that by fooling mobile users into clicking on malicious links in a fashion similar to phishing in email. Be wary of communications hacks.
    4 - Communications Is a Target
  • For the Enterprise: Data Theft

    Data theft is a major concern for the enterprise. But the concern isn't necessarily about hackers; it's about employees. Fiberlink, an IBM-owned company, recently told Tech Republic that the enterprise's list of most-blacklisted apps was dominated by cloud-storage solutions like DropBox, Box and Google Drive. For the enterprise, one of the biggest threats is watching employees walk out of the office with the ability to take any sensitive data they want and put it on cloud storage.
    5 - For the Enterprise: Data Theft
  • There's a Hardware Element

    Although much of the talk of mobile security centers on software, it's important to point out that smartphones and tablets are, well, mobile. That means that they can be easily stolen or used in malicious ways when outside the view of the IT staff. Hardware security is a huge issue in today's mobile-security landscape.
    6 - There's a Hardware Element
  • Jailbreaking Is a Wild World

    Although jailbreaking devices allows for access to more applications, it also opens a potential world of hurt for mobile users. In fact, the majority of security issues that affect Apple's iOS can only harm those products that are jailbroken and not locked down. Jailbreaking allows users to run unverified apps on devices. Sometimes, that's a good thing, but in many cases, it's a bad thing.
    7 - Jailbreaking Is a Wild World
  • For the Enterprise: Biometric Security

    There's another problem facing the corporate world that doesn't necessarily get the play it deserves: biometrics. While in the consumer market, biometric security, like a fingerprint scanner or the much-ballyhooed eye scanner, will help secure devices, for the IT side, it could be a nightmare. BYOD is taking the corporate world by storm. If employees are using their personal devices in the office and they're securing those products with their fingerprints or, eventually, eye scanners, IT staff will have serious trouble gaining access to those devices and ensuring device security.
    8 - For the Enterprise: Biometric Security
  • Malware Is on the Rise

    Mobile malware is expected to continue its upward trend over the next several years. Last month, McAfee reported that mobile malware was up 33 percent in 2013 compared with 2012. The company also said that it anticipates mobile malware to increase even more in 2014. At this point, it appears mobile malware is not going to slow down anytime soon.
    9 - Malware Is on the Rise
  • It's an E-Commerce World

    As last year's Target data breach showed, malicious hackers are still more than happy to target credit cards. Historically, that has meant either targeting retailers or finding ways to steal credit card information on the PC. But now that mobile e-commerce is booming, malicious hackers are finding tricks to steal credit card information on smartphones and tablets. The e-commerce struggle continues on mobile.
    10 - It's an E-Commerce World
  • Is the Government Watching?

    It would be remiss to not include some mention of alleged government surveillance as part of any discussion on mobile security. In 2013, all eyes were on the National Security Agency and other federal government agencies that have allegedly been spying on smartphones and tablets through the years. In January, a report suggested that third-party mobile advertising networks are allowing the NSA to access user data in applications and get a full dossier on individuals. Who knew the government knew so much?
    11 - Is the Government Watching?

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