Mobile devices are more ubiquitous than ever, with immeasurable amounts of data now being shared and manipulated on mobile platforms. Organizations rely heavily on their mobile environment to make business more efficient, increase productivity and enable employees to work while away from the office. However, this productivity is threatened by constantly evolving and proliferating mobile threats.

Mobile devices are today’s target of choice for attackers. Illegally exploiting their capabilities allows cybercriminals to locate users, eavesdrop on their conversations, and access their files, microphones, cameras and more. Still, many organizations underestimate the dangers posed by mobile threats.

Mobile Malware Is Rising

Threat actors primarily use three sensitive vectors to access mobile data: applications, networks and the devices themselves.

Mobile applications are widespread among employees, partners and clients and handle more information than any other media. According to Pradeo’s biannual “Mobile Security Report,” 77 percent of mobile threats occur at the application level. Mobile applications can frequently be the source of data leakage, and insecure applications can introduce unnoticed malware or spyware onto a device, exposing organizations to attacks and data breaches.

Malware can be divided into two categories: those that have known viral signatures and are labeled in virus databases, and those that are zero-day threats, or threats that have yet to be identified. Because they cannot be as easily detected, zero-day threats are much more dangerous.

Unfortunately, Pradeo reported a 92 percent rise in zero-day malware in the last six months, suggesting that modern threat actors are increasingly abandoning recognizable attacks and innovating to evade traditional security protections. Only mobile security solutions performing real-time behavioral analysis can detect this latter type of malware and ensure effective protection.

Out-of-Date Operating Systems Are Open Doors

Another mobile threat vector lies in the mobile device itself — particularly its operating system (OS). According to the report, the volume of mobile threats operating at the device level has increased by 100 percent. Many of these involve compromising a device’s OS, which gives attackers the privileged access they need to easily steal data from organizations.

Most mobile OS flaws are quickly discovered and patches are made available by the manufacturer. However, many mobile users wait days or weeks before installing new updates, giving cybercriminals a chance to take advantage of these vulnerabilities.

Public Wi-Fi Remains a Threat

People often connect their phones to public networks without realizing the potential risks. This leads to an increase in threats such as man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. In fact, attacks occurring over public Wi-Fi are the most common network threats facing mobile devices.

Employees that travel frequently are the most sensitive to such exploits and are at risk of exposing corporate data while connected to airport or restaurant Wi-Fi. Organizations need to make sure their traveling employees are aware of the risks and consider equipping them with security solutions that keep them protected against public Wi-Fi threats.

How Can Organizations Protect Their Mobile Environment?

Organizations often rely on unified endpoint management (UEM) solutions to manage and enforce compliance within their mobile fleet. These solutions can also enhance security, especially when integrated with other mobile threat defense solutions that provide on-device threat detection and remediation.

Combining UEM and integrated mobile defense solutions can help your organization embrace a proactive, automated strategy for combating mobile threats instead of relying on a reactive one.

Read the Mobile Security Report

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