The Dangers of Mobile Devices in a Remote World

By Krystal Rennie / Adlumin, Inc.

Do you often check your phone for notifications? Are you reading this article from your phone? If your answer to both of these questions was “yes,” don’t be surprised. Mobile devices have become a massive part of our daily routine. Americans spend an average screen time of 5.4 hours on their mobile phones daily, according to a Techujury.

As the pandemic remains a significant reality, remote work does not seem to be disappearing anytime soon. More people are on their phones, laptops, and tablets accessing work data, personal data, and everything in between from wherever they choose. Unfortunately, too much of something is not always the best. Increased use of mobile devices comes with security threats; it is growing to become one of the biggest targets of cyberattacks. 

What are Mobile Security Threats?

Mobile security threats can be described as attacks that steal or compromise data from everyday mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc. Threats include malware, phishing attacks, data breaches, and any other cyber threats that aim to give bad actors unauthorized access to mobile devices. Once a cybercriminal has entered your device, the possibilities of destruction are endless. From dealing with your sensitive data to making purchases on your company’s behalf, cybercriminals have more power once your data is in their hands. The reality is that mobile devices need just as much security as hardware.

Mobile Threat Types

That’s right. There’s more than one type of mobile threat, so let’s see what we’re up against. Below are four types of mobile threats to consider:

  • App-based threats happen when applications are downloaded onto a mobile device. Attacks occur when users download malicious apps, granting apps permission to access mobile device data or information without ensuring security. All cybercriminals need is an entryway that mirrors access to your pictures, email, contacts, etc.
  • Network threats happen when cybercriminals target an unsecured network, such as a free public Wi-Fi connection. In extreme cases, cybercriminals may set up fake Wi-Fi networks to trick users into connecting to them. Once users have connected to their Wi-Fi, they are prompted to set up login credentials, which presents a perfect opportunity for criminals to enter their devices and launch an attack.
  • Physical threats happen when devices are physically taken away from an individual or when they lose and abandon their mobile device. If we take things a step further and you do not have a password on your stolen or lost device, your phone can easily be hacked due to easy access.
  • Web-based threats occur through acts of phishing or spoofing. Cybercriminals will send an email or instant message to get your attention, making it seem like it’s coming from a trusted source, but it contains a malicious link or attachment. When you open the email/message and click the link or fill in your personal information, the cybercriminal instantly gains access to your device.

Being aware of these threats is one thing; however, knowing AND applying that knowledge is how you stay vigilant against hackers lurking in the cyberworld.

So, What’s Next?

When it comes to combatting cyber threats, the thought alone can be daunting. Luckily, there are things we can do to protect our mobile devices. The true-life hack regarding mobile security is to remain smarter than your smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. As technology advances, we need to advance right alongside it.

If you are trying to figure out where to begin, start by identifying your organization’s security needs. Once they’re identified, here are a few things you can do to ensure your remote devices are secured:

  • Create employee IT training and policies
  • Prioritize security and compliance platforms
  • Implement a protocol for mobile device management
  • Create strong passwords and turn on multi-factor authentication
  • Develop a more robust understanding of common cyber threats
  • Keep track of your mobile devices and secure them in safe places

By implementing these few tips, you will find that we have much more control over mobile security than we think. The power of protection lies in our hands as we need to take more responsibility for our mobile experiences. After all, if we can’t disconnect from our smartphones for less than 5.4 hours a day, we should at least commit to implementing security practices to protect our daily habits.