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Privacy in the Palm of Your Hand: A Deep Dive into Organisational Mobile Security

In the age of smartphones, our lives are intricately woven into the digital fabric of the mobile landscape. From constant notifications and accessibility to take calls anywhere in the world, our handheld devices have become repositories of our most sensitive information. With the increasing dependence on mobile technology, the need for increased mobile security in 2024 and further has never been more critical. 

The Mobile Security Landscape 

Rising Threats:

Mobile devices are vulnerable to diverse cyber threats, encompassing malware, spyware, surveillance, phishing, communication interception and data breaches. As mobile usage expands, cybercriminal tactics grow in sophistication. Malicious software can compromise device integrity, spyware invades privacy, surveillance exploits conversations and locations, phishing tricks users, and data breaches and malware expose sensitive data. Despite Android’s larger market share, it has traditionally experienced a higher percentage of malware infections compared to iOS. Some reports have suggested that over 99% of mobile malware targets Android devices due to its open ecosystem and widespread adoption. Additionally, social engineering and advanced persistent threats (APTs) pose risks. Robust cybersecurity practices, including regular updates, user education, multi-factor authentication, and secure communication protocols, are essential to counter these evolving threats.

App Permissions and Data Collection:

Mobile apps commonly request various permissions, such as contacts, location, camera, and microphone. Understanding and managing these permissions are vital for safeguarding organisational privacy. Users need to be cautious about the access they grant, as excessive permissions can lead to potential privacy breaches. Scrutinising app permissions involves assessing the necessity of each requested access. For instance, a note-taking app seeking camera access may raise concerns, prompting users to question its legitimacy. 

Concerns about extensive data collection practices by some apps emphasise the need for user vigilance. Certain apps may collect more data than necessary, raising privacy issues and potential misuse risks. With the likes of WhatsApp being used for business purposes, according to their own terms of service, using the platform for business or professional purposes is discouraged: “You will not use (or assist others in using) our services in ways that: (f) involve any non-personal use of our serves unless otherwise authorized by us.”

Even against their own recommendations, some still use WhatsApp for professional use, which acts as a prime example of how users are not vigilant enough in protecting their own sensitive information.  

Educating users on managing app permissions and fostering awareness of data collection practices is key. Regular audits of permissions and uninstalling unnecessary apps contribute to proactive privacy measures. Implementing a robust app vetting process further enhances organisational defences against potential privacy infringements.

The Hidden Dangers of Unsecured Mobile Devices 

When considering endpoints, mobile devices and many corporate-owned IT assets are among the least regulated tools employed by workers. Despite their significance, they are frequently disregarded, despite housing just as much sensitive information as laptops and desktops.

Mobile devices typically constitute approximately 60% of an organisation’s endpoints, all possessing the capability to access millions of confidential and sensitive company files. Over 40% of data breaches can be linked to insecure mobile devices. 

This then can serve as entry points for hackers aiming to initiate an attack within a company’s network, such as mobile ransomware and operating system (OS) exploitation. 

Best Practices for Mobile Security

1. Regular Software Updates:

Keeping all devices across the workforce mobiles operating system and apps up to date is fundamental to maintaining security. Updates often include patches for vulnerabilities identified by developers and security researchers.

2. Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):

Implementing 2FA adds an extra layer of protection to your accounts. Even if a password is compromised, an additional verification step (such as a code sent to your phone) adds a crucial element of security. Needless to say you should regularly change your passwords too!

3. App Vigilance:

Be mindful of the apps that your employees download and grant permissions to. Review app permissions before installation, and uninstall apps that you no longer use. Consider using reputable app stores to minimise the risk of downloading malicious software.

4. Secure Wi-Fi Connections:

Ensure employees are aware of the risks around using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities, as these networks can be susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks. Instead, use secure and trusted networks to protect your data.

5. Incident Response Plan:

Develop and regularly update an incident response plan specifically tailored for mobile security incidents. This ensures a coordinated and effective response to any security breaches or incidents.

6. Privacy Settings Review:

Regularly review and update privacy settings on mobile devices, apps, and accounts to minimise the amount of personal and sensitive information exposed.

7. Data Encryption:

Enable encryption on mobile devices to protect sensitive data, both at rest and in transit. This ensures that even if a device is compromised, the data remains unreadable without the proper encryption keys.

8. Having a secure communications app:

Every device linking to your network poses a threat to your company. To strengthen your defences against the escalating number of cyber-attacks, it’s essential to view these potential risks as the foundation for safeguarding your business. Opt for a proactive stance by securing your mobile devices with a reliable communications app, transforming your organisation’s vulnerabilities into strengths.

Looking Ahead

With privacy in the palm of your hand, the responsibility to safeguard it rests within your organisation. By staying informed about the latest threats, adopting secure practices, and leveraging the tools and technologies available, individuals can navigate the mobile landscape with confidence, ensuring that their personal information remains confidential and secure. Mobile security is not just a technological imperative; it is a collective effort to protect the digital fabric of our interconnected daily operations. 

Ensuring protection against cyber threats on mobile devices involves embracing secure communication practices as a highly effective strategy. Utilising a closed, secure communications system such as Salt Communications ensures that your organisation takes back complete control and ensures communications are secure at all times. It is imperative for organisations to maintain absolute control over their communications, ensuring comprehensive visibility. This control encompasses management over system invitations, user-to-user communication permissions, establishment of rules for data storage and retention, and facilitation of any required integrations.

To sign up for a free trial or demo of Salt Communications contact us on info@saltcommunications.com or visit our website at https://saltcommunications.com/.

Discover why your organisation should consider Salt as a secure communications method.  

About Salt Communications

Salt Communications is a multi-award winning cyber security company providing a fully enterprise-managed software solution giving absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. Salt Communications offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for Organisations who value their privacy, by giving them complete control and secure communications, to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe. Salt Communications is headquartered in Belfast, N. Ireland, for more information https://saltcommunications.com/        

References:

https://www.techtarget.com/whatis/definition/mobile-security

https://ceo-insight.com/cyber-security/2-out-of-5-data-breaches-linked-to-mobile-and-iot-devices

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