As smartphone and tablet use rises steadily, people may not be fully aware of the security risks for those devices. Enterprise and consumer devices are confronted with a record number of security threats, according to a new study by Juniper Networks.
For years, the main focus on protection has been the computer. But according to the study, hackers and malware distributors are turning their sights on mobile devices - and it's particularly alarming because the majority of users don't have proper security measures in place.
The headlining news from the report is that Android malware attacks increased 400% from the summer of 2010.
But its not just Android users who need to worry. The study found that basically any device with downloadable apps is at heightened risk. Apparently the top way for malware to make it onto your device are through apps.
The report also mentions the Wi-Fi attacks are on the rise, giving attackers easy access to email and social networking information. 17% of attacks came through SMS, where trojans sent messages to premium rate numbers, costing the unwitting consumer.
"These findings reflect a perfect storm of users who are either uneducated on or disinterested in security, downloading readily available applications from unknown and unvetted sources in the complete absence of mobile device security solutions," said Dan Hoffman, chief mobile security evangelist at Juniper Networks.
"App store processes of reactively removing applications identified as malicious after they have been installed by thousands of users is insufficient as a means to control malware proliferation. There are specifics steps users must take to mitigate mobile attacks. Both enterprises and consumers alike need to be aware of the growing risks associated with the convenience of having the Internet in the palm of your hand."
Although this information may seem rather alarming, the sky isn't exactly falling. There are things you can do. Juniper suggests these steps for consumers:
• Install an on-device anti-malware solution to protect against malicious applications, spyware, infected SD cards, and malware-based attacks on the device
• Use an on-device personal firewall to protect device interfaces
• Require robust password protection for device access
• Implement anti-spam software to protect against unwanted voice and SMS/MMS communications
• For parents, use device usage monitoring software to oversee and control pre-adult mobile device usage and protect against cyberbullying, cyberstalking, exploitative or inappropriate usage, and other threats
I'm as guilty as the next person of failing to realize the new mobile threat. I guess we all have to start thinking of smartphones as what they actually are - little pocket computers.