Smartphones and tablets have changed our lives and our working habits more than any other technology. Yes, they offer greater flexibility and more freedom, but they also pose new risks by increasingly allowing hackers to access and target sensitive user and business data. This blog post examines the kinds of attacks we’ve seen over recent months and explains what you need to do to keep yourself safe.
Cyber attacks are fast becoming one of the major threats to businesses
- Malware attacks: This kind of attack is where malicious software is installed on end devices to steal data or cause systems to crash. Last year there were a total of 9.32 billion malware attacks worldwide, a rise of nearly 20% compared to the previous year.
- Ransomware attacks: Ransomware attacks involve software being used to block access to users’ computer systems. The affected users are then asked to pay a “ransom” to regain access to their own systems. Admittedly, the number of such attacks has fallen in recent years (from 638 million in 2016 to 184 million in 2017), but this does not mean that we are in any less danger. In fact, the number of different variations of ransomware programs has doubled over the same period. This in turn means that it is extremely difficult to protect against this kind of risk.
- Distributed denial-of-service attacks: These are an attempt to disable servers and often entire companies, by artificially sending so many enquiries to a network that it becomes overloaded, making, for example, systems in the production sector easy prey for hackers.
Spectre and Meltdown classed as high risks
At the beginning of the year, “Spectre” and “Meltdown” were classed as high risks, as they exploited security loopholes in the processors used in smartphones, tablets and PCs. They targeted all operating systems, extracting data and passwords from the affected devices.
Virus protection programs were helpless in the face of these attacks. The only way to resolve the problem was to download software updates issued by manufacturers. The lack of visibility or traceability to assess whether updates have been activated or not poses a serious challenge to companies if they don’t manage their devices centrally. It is therefore crucial to make sure that device software is updated on an automatic, centralized basis, and checked accordingly.
Multiple protection options
It is clear that the threat of cyber attacks poses a huge risk. Here are some essential safety precautions and countermeasures you can take:
- Employee awareness: Make sure employees are aware that using mobile end devices also comes with responsibilities. You could introduce a code of conduct to manage how such devices are used. Don’t forget that even using public Wi-Fi networks can pose risks.
- Security software and updates: Security software products such as MobileIron Threat Defense or Lookout are essential, as is downloading and installing operating system updates on a regular basis.
- Enterprise Mobility Management system (EMM): Mobile end devices can be managed centrally by means of an EMM. In the event of a cyber attack, or if there are known weak points, such as Spectre and Meltdown, this system has the following key benefits:
- You can delete business data from the affected end device
- You can block access by the affected employee
- You can install or prescribe software updates
This prevents sensitive data getting into the hands of unauthorized parties and means that security loopholes can be closed promptly. The EMM is also able to provide valuable information about the attack itself after the event, meaning that the system is better equipped to respond to future attacks.
It’s never too early for a business to introduce security precautions to protect against cyber attacks, or to prepare appropriate countermeasures. It’s not a question of whether a business might be the target of a cyber attack, but when
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