What Is Mobile Security?

Lukas Grigas
Cybersecurity Content Writer
mobile security

Mobile security refers to the cybersecurity of phones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices that we’ve gotten so used to in our daily lives. As cybercrime continues to rise, so does the prominence of mobile security. Today, let’s take a closer look at mobile phone security.

Why is mobile security important for businesses?

Today, our reliance on mobile devices is higher than ever. With work from home on the rise, mobile devices have become an essential part of our day-to-day lives. However, with all the flexibility that such devices bring to our lives and workplaces, it is important to remember that they provide a large attack vector for bad actors as well. And this is where business mobile security plays a critical role in an organization’s overall security strategy.

The year 2021 was one of the most active years when it came to cyberattacks. Check Point Research found that in 2021, the business world experienced a 50% increase in attacks per week globally. What’s even more astounding is that in 2021, the average data breach cost stood at around $4.24 million in 2021.

The annual Zimperium report, which focuses on mobile enterprise security and mobile threats, found that almost a quarter of mobile devices faced malware last year. At the same time, the report highlights that 13% of mobile devices had their data intercepted and 12% were directed to a malicious site. Furthermore, 42% of organizations report that vulnerabilities in mobile devices and web applications have led to a larger security incident.

Ignoring the importance of mobile security can put individuals as well as businesses in a dangerous situation. Mobile devices – without appropriate security – can be vulnerable to a whole variety of mobile threats, which in turn can very easily turn into full-scale breaches.

Mobile security threats

These days, mobile devices face a large variety of threats. Everything from phishing to ransomware can affect mobile devices. And as we continue to further rely on mobile devices for our work and personal needs, it is crucial to be aware of the threats that lurk.

Here are some of the most prominent cell phone security threats that you should be aware of.

Physical threats

Physical threats refer to the device being broken, stolen, or lost. Losing or getting your device stolen is worse than simply breaking it, mostly because a broken device is a lot harder for hackers to exploit. However, if bad actors get their hands on a working mobile device, they can steal all the information on it. Just think about what kind of sensitive data you store on your phone, and you’ll quickly realize the scale of a problem that you would face.

Application threats

Aside from physical threats, mobile devices face a variety of software-related risks. In fact, Proofpoint researchers note a whopping 500% jump in malware attacks on mobile devices in just the first few months of 2022. Malicious apps are the way many bad actors carry out their attacks. Usually such apps masquerade as legitimate software, yet they are specifically designed to steal large quantities of data, record keystrokes, or anything else that the hackers wish to do or get their hands on. What is most alarming is that malicious apps can even make their way into official app stores, which widely puts individuals at risk.

Network threats

Mobile devices, like most other devices that connect to the internet, are also prone to network risks and threats. Man-in-the-middle attacks – which essentially are malicious network interceptions – are common and often devastating. Such attacks usually take place while the user is connected to an unsecure Wi-Fi network, which – as you might suspect – can be easily exploited easily by the bad actors. Falling victim to a network-related attack means that all of your communications can be monitored, and all the data sent over that connection can be intercepted and stolen.

Social engineering threats

Today, phishing, which is a type of social engineering attack, is extremely prevalent. The whole idea behind phishing is to trick unsuspecting users into downloading malicious software or providing unauthorized access to their device. The attackers achieve their aim by creating emails or other types of messages that mimic legitimate sources but in reality are nothing more than a disguise. Once the user clicks on links within a phishing message or downloads an attachment, that’s when the bad actors succeed. In recent years, mobile phishing attacks have become increasingly common. It is natural that 85% of phishing attacks occur outside email: 17% of attacks are carried out via messaging apps, while 16% are carried out via social media apps.

OS exploits

OS exploits refer to threats related to your device’s operating system. Hackers are known for their relentless efforts in discovering smartphone security vulnerabilities within the operating system’s architecture, which might’ve been overlooked or never even thought of by the developers behind the OS. Using such vulnerabilities, bad actors can plant malicious software or establish secret access to the network, which could result in serious damage.

Threat prevention for mobile devices

Ensuring the security of various mobile devices can be tricky. You need to take into account the type of device, its OS, and a variety of other factors for efficient and strong security. For businesses, secure mobile devices present an even larger challenge because of the number of devices that need protection. Here are some tips for making mobile devices more secure in a personal or business environment.

Cybersecurity and password policies for mobile devices

In a business environment, it is crucial to have clear security policies when it comes to the use of mobile devices. For maximum security, it is best to outline strict requirements for device use cases: whether devices should be used outside the workplace network, what software can and can’t be installed on the device, or for what each device should be used. Furthermore, as a mobile security solution, consider enforcing company-wide password policies that determine the length and complexity of the password for mobile devices.

Mobile device management software

Mobile device management software – also referred to as MDM software – allows IT admins within the company to proactively ensure the security of mobile devices by monitoring and managing devices remotely. In today’s world riddled with cybersecurity threats, MDM software is essential for any company that relies on the use of mobile devices.

Anti-malware software

Anti-malware software, just as the name suggests, can protect your device from malware. Such software can issue warnings with regard to suspicious links, attachments, and websites before the user is able to engage. Anti-malware tools can also get rid of malicious software in case of an emergency. Having such a tool should be a no-brainer.

Wipe apps

Wipe apps are a specific type of software designed for use in emergencies. As the name suggests, wipe apps make sure that everything that is stored on the mobile device is wiped completely in case the device is lost or stolen.

What are the different types of mobile device security?

Now let’s delve into the various types of mobile device security measures that can safeguard your digital life from potential risks.

1. Authentication and access control

One of the primary security measures for mobile devices is the implementation of authentication and access control systems. Such systems ensure that only authorized individuals can access the device and its data. Here are a few examples of authentication and access control:

  • Passwords and PINs. Simple yet effective, passwords and PINs are the most common forms of authentication. Users must enter a unique combination of characters or numbers to unlock their devices.

  • Biometrics. This type of security relies on users' unique biological traits, such as fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scanning. Biometric authentication is considered more secure than traditional passwords.

  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires users to provide two separate forms of verification, such as a password and a fingerprint or a one-time code sent to a secondary device. This method significantly enhances security, because it makes it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access.

2. Encryption

Encryption is a process that converts data into a gibberish code, making it unreadable to unauthorized individuals. By encrypting sensitive information stored on mobile devices, users can ensure that even if their device is lost or stolen, the data remains secure. Here are a few examples of encryption intended for mobile devices:

  • Device encryption. This method encrypts the entire device, including its operating system, applications, and user data. Today’s smartphones and tablets usually come with built-in device encryption capabilities.

  • Application-level encryption. This form of encryption protects data in individual apps, such as messaging services, email clients, or file storage apps. Encryption at an application level can help ensure secure communications.

3. Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM)

MDM and MAM are vital for organizations that allow employees to use their mobile devices for work purposes. Such security tools allow administrators to control and manage devices remotely, ensuring the safety of sensitive corporate data. Here are a few examples of MDM and MAM:

  • Remote lock and wipe. In an instance when a device is lost or stolen, administrators can remotely lock the device or wipe its data to prevent unauthorized access.

  • App and content management: MDM and MAM solutions allow organization administrators to control which apps can be installed on devices and manage access to specific content.

  • Security policy enforcement: These tools allow organizations to enforce consistent security policies across all devices, including password requirements, encryption standards, and software updates.

NordPass Business: An easy way to fortify mobile security

Business password managers are an essential part of any company’s security infrastructure. In addition to password security – which is obviously the point of a password manager – such tools facilitate productivity by taking a load off the team.

NordPass Business is an intuitive and secure password management solution designed to meet the ever-increasing security needs of the modern day business. Built with the user in mind, NordPass Business offers security for mobile phones and devices, advanced encryption for vault protection along with a user-friendly interface, which facilitates quick user adoption regardless of IT expertise.

With NordPass Business, organizations can easily set company-wide password policies, check their password strength, and check whether any of the company’s email or domains have been affected by a data breach.

On top of that, NordPass Business almost entirely eliminates manual password typing with the autofill and autosave feature. The only password that you still need to remember is the Master Password.

To ensure the use of strong passwords across the company, NordPass Business comes with a built-in Password Generator, which creates unique and strong passwords for you with just a few clicks.

The NordPass Business app is available for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices, which means that all the company’s passwords can be accessed securely and conveniently on virtually any device, even when the user is offline.

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