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Two Biggest Threats to Mobile Endpoint Security in 2023

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As mobile devices have become the go-to for business, so has their potential to put enterprise security at risk. To this end, it is essential that enterprises maintain a robust stance on mobile endpoint security. According to Verizon's 2022 mobile security report, more than 50 percent of organizations reported that they suffered from mobile-related compromise.

As researchers have highlighted, phishing and malware are two of the most powerful mobile threats that businesses must be mindful of in order to protect themselves in 2023.

Verizon's report also highlighted that 18% of phishing attacks by clicking emails arrived from mobile devices. Another report by Check Point said that 9% of firms across different sectors suffered mobile-based malware attacks in 2022.

What is mobile endpoint security?

Endpoint security is a technique for securing end-user devices from exploitation by malicious threat actors and attack campaigns. Mobile endpoint security protects all mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops employees carry to different locations. Mobile endpoint security also involves security measures that protect the network, cloud, apps and other assets associated with the endpoint device. 

Mobile endpoint security has evolved from traditional mobile antiviruses to a comprehensive security system that checks for sophisticated malware and other attack vectors. Mobile endpoint security has become paramount with the explosion of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture in enterprise systems.

Mobile devices are a target for cyberattacks

Employees prefer using mobile devices for their official work because they are convenient and allow seamless access to corporate data and systems. Conversely, cybercriminals also prefer to exploit mobile devices or their users for the same reason. According to the Zimperium Research report 2022, 56% of employees rely on mobile devices and install four to eight enterprise applications on their mobile devices. The report highlighted that 75 percent of phishing sites target mobile devices, while 23 percent of devices encounter malware worldwide.

56% of employees rely on mobile devices

Since enterprise applications and devices contain sensitive data, adversaries and cybercriminals try to get their hands on them. Attackers use malware and phishing pages to corrupt data or steal sensitive details from employees. They use the login credentials to gain unauthorized access to corporate systems. 

Researchers found that Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions aren't enough for mobile endpoint security. These tools only secure the use of corporate data but cannot defend against threats like malware and phishing.

Phishing on Android and iOS

Phishing is a cyberattack (social engineering technique) that involves deceiving or misleading people into parting with sensitive information. To access privileged information such as passwords, social security numbers, pins, contact details and other confidential data - attackers often disguise themselves as reputable sources. They may do this by sending malicious emails or text messages from seemingly legitimate accounts online. Phishing is an effective tactic for targeting mobile devices in particular.

Cybercriminals use phishing attacks on Android and iOS devices by luring users with SMS (smishing), malicious emails, and legitimate-looking fraudulent banking pages to steal confidential information such as bank details or two-factor authentication codes. Unsurprisingly, renowned companies like PayPal, Apple, and Amazon have been victims of custom phishing campaigns enabled through Phishing-as-a-Service services. Businesses must deploy a comprehensive security solution for all enterprise mobile devices to protect their assets from exploitation on mobile endpoints.

Malware on mobile devices

Mobile malware is a serious concern with the potential to wreak havoc on your device. There are numerous avenues through which malicious software can access applications and cause devastating damage.

They come via:

  • ads (adware),

  • email (malware attached to emails),

  • vulnerable networks or broken links (ransomware),

  • illegitimate downloads (Trojans), or

  • unsolicited URL redirecting (viruses because of drive-by download).

Malicious Trojans are the leading cause of attacks on mobile devices, often disguising themselves as innocuous applications to steal your personal and financial information. These applications allow malicious actors to gain permanent access to enterprise-level phones, giving them unlimited power over these vulnerable devices. According to Malwarebytes 2023 state-of-the-art research report, malware droppers accounted for 14% of detections on Android. 

Preventive measures for better mobile endpoint security

Companies should take a comprehensive approach to mobile endpoint security and look beyond traditional MDM platforms and solutions. Here are a few essential points that organizations must consider to ensure strong device protection.

  • Use advanced anti-malware and antivirus tools

  • Use behavioural analysis tools that leverage machine learning techniques to identify phishing campaigns and malware threats

  • Deploy 24/7 real-time protection against emerging threats

  • Implement ad blockers and ad trackers

  • Use spam-blocking tools and fraudulent SMS/email filtering techniques

  • Add regular Mobile Application Security Penetration Testing to your annual security audit

  • Educate employees on mobile security best practices and the latest threats

Conclusion

By following the preventive measures outlined in this article, organizations can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to malicious attacks targeting mobile endpoints. It is essential for businesses to effectively protect their corporate devices against cyber threats by deploying endpoint security solutions that cover all aspects of device protection.

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