The global pandemic has changed the landscape of work. In fact, according to Stanford research 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full time.1 Added to this is the need to stay ahead of the curve, or at least remain relevant, by adapting to the dramatic growth in millennial workers, who will make up a majority of the workforce (75%) by 2025.2 This is the first generation to grow up immersed in a digital world of broadband, social media, laptops and tablets. As such, instant access at quality levels via mobile devices is no longer a luxury but a necessity. And with widespread adoption of mobile connectivity comes greater risk for cyberattacks.
The Mobile Threat Landscape
A snapshot of the current landscape shows that almost 30% of companies have already been hit by a mobile cyberattack caused by the security compromise of a mobile device.3 Cyber criminals are hitting more and more endpoint devices as they see the inherent vulnerabilities such as signaling location details and connecting to cell towers or Wi-Fi networks that may be nefarious.
Security Infrastructure for your Mobile Apps
Just how far reaching and hazardous can an attack on an endpoint be? That’s just it. It’s not a one-on-one battle. One attack can hit several endpoints. Take a Russian hack a few years ago on the cell phones of NATO soldiers. It was carried out by drones carrying telecom equipment. One infected phone can be weaponized as a Trojan horse, exposing highly confidential information and putting it into the wrong hands. If this method can threaten a global alliance, it can easily set its sights on any organization and wreak havoc. Particularly considering that hackers are only becoming more sophisticated by the day.
Staying One Step Ahead
Limiting the use of mobile devices in the enterprise is not a viable solution. The endgame is about reducing the attack surface presented by the growing number of endpoints. A key strategy is to be proactive, staying ahead of cyber criminals and thwarting their attacks before they can damage a business and its assets. It takes the right mix of advanced software such as contextual based access, geofencing, mobile app threat detection and mitigation software, as well as comprehensive solutions such as mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM).
Depending on where the user is or what network the device is on, contextual based access enables IT teams to limit access and increase endpoint security measures as needed. For example, if an employee is on a public Wi-Fi, he may be required to pass multifactor authentication or be denied access to certain company apps containing sensitive information.
Geofencing establishes limits, but in a different way. If the device crosses into or out of a virtual geographic boundary, such as the grounds of a corporate headquarters, geofencing policies enable or disable certain device functions. Once the mobile device is back outside the boundary, the pre-programmed policies again determine which functions of the device are enabled or disabled. This software is often deployed by companies that have strict compliance regulations because they handle highly classified information within their facilities or on their campuses.
Mobile app protection effectively detects both known and unknown threats, including malicious apps like keyloggers or banker malware that may be present on the device, vulnerabilities in the operating system, Man-in-the-Middle attacks, or tampering attempts to your mobile app. This unique, on-device network protection technology includes various features such as anti-phishing, safe browsing, anti-bot and conditional access capabilities. This helps keep your users safe wherever they are located, from whatever they are clicking on in their text messages and from whatever they are downloading.
MDM solutions enable devices to be completely wiped or locked if it has been compromised or lost. If it is a BYOD device, the MDM allows IT to create a unique container for the business applications and data, keeping personal and work functions separate within the device. This way, if the phone needs to be wiped or locked, IT can do so at the business container level so the employee’s personal apps and data are not affected.
MDM is often used with MAM software. MAM is software that secures and enables IT control over enterprise applications on end users’ corporate and personal smartphones and tablets. MAM software allows IT administrators to apply and enforce corporate policies on mobile apps and limit the sharing of corporate data among apps.
An MDM solution, which may be combined with MAM, can introduce data loss prevention (DLP) policies to make certain functionality unavailable when working with business-related apps. For example, IT can disable the screen shot function within the business container or prevent an employee from copying text in a company email to a personal file. With the type of simplicity and control it offers IT, and the flexibility it gives to the end user, it’s not surprising that the MDM market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% through 2021.4
Another option to consider are MDM Lite solutions. These allow for protection of cloud-based corporate data and email that is being accessed by a mobile device. These usually fall under the category of Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs).
In summary, MDM solutions help to create a strong security framework around all devices used by company employees for business. These solutions help organizations meet the industry established security guidelines, giving them the ability to manage devices in the following areas:
- Maintaining an inventory of authorized and unauthorized devices and software
- Creating secure configurations for software and hardware on devices
- Performing continuous vulnerability assessment and remediation
- Enhancing malware defenses
- Enforcing DLP polices
- Increasing application software security
- Improving device authentication
- Encrypting devices as required
The mobile workforce is now the norm rather than the exception, particularly in today’s new remote-first climate. While organizations might be reticent about fully embracing mobility because of security concerns, the productivity, agility, collaboration and morale benefits can’t be denied. A comprehensive mobile device security plan can help alleviate the stress of integrating mobile connectivity into core operations, while also allowing the business to reap its rewards – regardless of where and how people want to work.
- Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy
- 30 Remarkable Stats About Millennials in the Workplace
- Improving Mobile Security: What Companies Need to Know
- What is EMM? Enterprise Mobility Management explained