Mobile Malware Issues Persist as Devices Remain Exposed

The Juniper report said the low adoption level of security software could be attributed to many factors, including low consumer awareness of threats.

More than 80 percent of the total enterprise- and consumer-owned smartphone device base is expected to remain unprotected through 2013, despite a steadily increasing consumer awareness of mobile security products, according to a report from IT research firm Juniper.

At the same time, the report found that nearly 1.3 billion mobile devices including smartphones, feature phones and tablets are expected to have mobile security software installed by 2018, up from around 325 million this year.

The Mobile Security: BYOD, mCommerce, Consumer & Enterprise 2013-2018 report also found that security risks are on the rise due to an explosion of mobile malware over the last two years. The report said device manufacturers and security vendors need to strike a balance between security and user-friendliness.

Despite the prevalence of free security software, Juniper analysts said the scale of cyber-crime’s expansion in the mobile arena offers a clear opportunity for the creation of a new revenue streams for mobile security providers.

The report claimed that the low level of adoption of security software could be attributed to a number of factors, including the relatively low consumer awareness about online attack on mobile devices and a widespread consumer perception that the price of security products is excessive.

Nevertheless, the report asserted that steadily increasing consumer awareness, allied to far greater visibility of product adoption levels, had resulted in rapid service adoption during the second half of 2012, leading to higher than anticipated service revenues.

In addition, it found that cyber-criminals are transitioning their focus from PCs onto the mobile platform--across both enterprise and consumer segments. These findings support Trend Micro’s data showing that that there will be more than 1 million mobile malware viruses in the market by the end of this year.

On the business side, while bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives—which allow employees to bring their own computing devices to the workplace--become increasingly common, a single policy or measure may not be sufficient and a unified perspective on mobile platform risks is critical, the report noted.

That finding mirrors the results of a July report from managed cloud services provider NaviSite, which found Despite 80 percent of respondents agreeing that BYOD is the "new normal," only 45 percent have a formal BYOD policy in their workplace.

According to the survey of more than 700 IT decision makers, 68 percent of respondents said they were very concerned or extremely concerned when thinking about securing enterprise data on employee mobile devices--one of the biggest concerns facing IT executives with BYOD policies is securing company data.