How Secure Are Our Mobile Networks?


Last year’s scandals, where intimate photos of celebrities were leaked, highlighted the problems with phone security. How secure are our mobile networks really?

Because mobile phones are now so commonplace, many people assume they pose no real threat. Mobile devices are so incredibly powerful that users assume they have all the protection and security necessary, built into the phone or tablet. However, this simply is not the case, and we need to put more thought into our online protection.

Malware is Increasing Every Year

Malware is a malicious form of code that includes viruses, worms and other security-breach tactics. David Emm, the Principal Security Researcher and Global Research & Analysis at one of the top antivirus and Internet security firms, recounts that the number of malware cases seen from 2011 to 2014 has increased by almost 250,000.

One the newest forms of malware is ransomware, which is a security hacking malware that locks up a computer system from its user and requests a ransom to be paid in order to regain access.

Not only does this malware exist on desktops and laptops, but also on mobile devices. Smart phones and tablets carry many of the same files that computers do, which opens a whole new outlet for malicious malware.

Mobile Users and Small Businesses are Targets

A few years ago, ransomware was merely blocking access from users of both mobile and desktop devices, however, more recently, the malware is starting to encrypt data, elevating the security concern to a whole new level.

Many mobile users are still unsure of the privacy settings in mobile apps such as iCloud backup, and last year’s major hack of celebrity accounts demonstrates that. Hackers are targeting mobile users because they tend to be less educated about the systems behind their devices, and are, as a result, more easily hacked. One of David Emm’s main suggestions is that all mobile and desktop users consistently backup their information.

Small businesses typically don’t think about security as a large corporation does. While a large company may have an in-house team maintaining the security of their systems, many small businesses will allow employees to work on their personal mobile devices and laptops. Backing up information is the best form of defence against hacking, and small businesses should assign someone to backup at least once a week. For more information on the mobile security concern, read this article from CNN.

Smartphones are Computers

Only a few years ago, people used their mobile phones to make calls and send texts. The technology behind mobile phones has gradually improved, seamlessly adding the ability to send emails, read documents, and post on Facebook and Twitter. The main problem with today’s users is that they continue to view their mobile devices as phones, and not the mini computers that they are.

Smartphones and tablets can do basically everything a computer can, and should be treated with the same amount of concern for security. The next big threat we will see with malware is through bank account hacking. Malware is starting to take the form of fake bank apps, which are designed to steal customer account details. There is a risk of real money being stolen from accounts.

The best thing mobile users can do is to carefully monitor what information goes through their mobile devices, and take the time to backup more often on a secure system. Businesses should ensure that their networks are fully secure, especially when mobile devices are connected to the network.

About the Author

Alex Viall is the Director of Mustard IT, a London-based company that offers professional IT support to businesses across London and the Home Counties.

Photo credit: Kay Gaensler

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