Most Popular Mobile Threats Your Business Phones Face Daily
As the e-commerce industry grows, small and medium enterprises face growth challenges. E-commerce businesses have unique rules and regulations to follow. Most operate from home; they face more hurdles than any large business. Today the world is getting more advanced and technological. Like everything comes at a price, these advancements came at the price of many risks and dangers to privacy. One major threat small business face today is the cybersecurity threat. Victor Congionti, chief information officer of proven data, said about this threat of cybersecurity to SMEs: "Small businesses that focus their attention in the e-commerce space need policies and procedures to create a solid cybersecurity framework for the organization; in the case of a cyberattack, a small business cannot afford to have downtime in operations and sales, because every transaction is a marginal financial success that the business depends on." SMEs have to be more conscious about the well-being of their business. Because they do not have a line of investors waiting to invest in them, they do not have regular loyal customers, and the most critical challenge they face is the competition in the market. Small fish must move very carefully when giant whales are in the market.
Because of all these challenges, SMEs need to develop robust security for their privacy, data, employees, and work. Sometimes SMEs can be used as a bridge to target other big companies. Small businesses have a customer line or relations to any small business. This will be in favor of hackers to do cybercrime. This is the world of media; small irresponsibility can change the entire future of a business. New generations of mobile phones and smart devices are being introduced worldwide. This leads to an increase in the diversity of mobile usage at the workplace. Employees of the organizations use social tools for work belongs not only to IT but also to other industries. This easy access to mobile poses many security threats to businesses on a daily basis. We will discuss significant threats business phones face daily, ways to stop/avoid risks, and suggestions to managers on how to manage the security of smartphones.
Mobile Device Management Of Small Businesses:
It is a common misconception that small businesses do not need any security but need more because they are surviving for growth. SMEs have fewer technological defenses, fewer resources, and less knowledge or time to put in the effort. This makes them an easier target for cyber security attacks. Unfortunately, conventional businesses only adopt technological changes slowly. They do not accept change, and as a result, they face many threats daily. Mobile devices have become an essential tool for doing business for many businesses. To increase mobility in the workplace, managers accept the challenges that come up with it. The use of smartphones for business activity has more advantages than threats. They offer better communication, workforce flexibility, efficiency, productivity, and accuracy of information. Better customer relations are the most crucial goal for any business. Here are some benefits of mobile device management which can help small businesses if adopted:
With the proper mobile device management, an accountant can manage the bills, and accounting information, place orders, retrieve pricing and discount rates, and forward product information to the customers.
Mobile device management can help an HR manager hire, get the correct information, contact employees on time, receive companywide announcements, confirm training schedules, fill out expense reports, and submit time sheets.
For a supply chain manager, mobile device management can help prepare listings, manage supplies, and ensure that every order is supplied to customers on time. It can also help show virtual tours to clients and investors, which can be helpful in the growth of a business.
Threats/Security Risks Of Business Phones
Since the mobile application market is growing, at the same time, mobile security issues are rising. Security is always an arms race between attackers and defenders. If there is a chance of attacking at the same time, there is a chance of defending your phones. We will discuss threats business phones are facing in daily life. During the world economic forum of 2019, the participants came up with the idea that this century is the start of cyber security. It means there will be more art and architecture of cybercrimes. We stand on the brink of a new era of technology. As it evolves in the future, more cybercrimes will involve. Digital problems need digital solutions. The "new threats to mobile devices" are an ongoing debate because mobile phones are getting more vulnerable to attacks. For ordinary people, these data privacy attacks can harm a relationship or friendship, but for a business, they can cause permanent damage to the name of the company. Small & medium enterprises strive all their journey to create a brand name or brand image. A single mistake of not protecting data can remove all the efforts. So, SMEs need more consciousness in doing business activities. By the research, it is proved that 60% of mobile devices account for digital fraud. The more someone depends on a mobile for daily activities, the more it is prone to different threats to security and privacy.
Small businesses have the most to lose from cyberattacks. According to a report on cybercrimes, small businesses lose $2.5 million per attack. They don't have enough resources to recover from that loss, or they can't afford any harm to their brand name. According to the treasury and risk, the cyber security risk for businesses accounts for 54% of total risk in 2016. Out of all the business leaders, 61% said that cyber risk is the primary concern of their business. In all these cyber-attacks, 23% of large firms reported that external data breaches occur mainly. Small businesses ranked 39% of cybercrime among all the challenges faced by the business. Medium enterprises ranked cybercrime at 61% in the list of worries. According to the data, 56% of businesses worry about criminal cyber-attacks, 23% worry about human error, and 22% worry about system malfunction. Source (https://www.treasuryandrisk.com/2017/05/15/8-biggest-threats-to-businesses/?slreturn=20221024000509)
Here we will discuss the security threats business phones face daily. Both internal and external threats include:
- Physical access
- Communication interception
- Phishing attacks
- Malware attacks
- Ransomware attacks
- Weak passwords attack
- Insider threats
- Social Media threats
Let's discuss them briefly and ways to avoid these threats.
Before discussing other threats and their prevention, the first and foremost threat is the physical access of the attacker to mobile or any device having business data. Mobile devices are portable, lightweight, and easily accessible. It is handy, and almost everyone carries it in their hands. Most businesses require their employees to stay in touch with their clients 24/7. Then there come mobile phones because laptops and pc can't be used 24/7. Also, a phone is necessary or the best companion if you are travelling. Besides all these perks, it is vulnerable to physical attacks. It is very easy to steal the phone. It can happen very quickly and easily; you can't even know. You can also forget the phone in airports or airplanes or taxicabs. This physical access to your phone is a threat any business faces on a daily basis.
Ways to protect from physical access:
If you want this type of mistake never to occur, don't try to use your phone in public. Use a ringing alarm on other devices if you leave the phone somewhere. All other precautions can only be implemented if you protect your phone from having physical access to attackers. iOS has a unique set of linking all the devices together. You have an apple iPhone, a MacBook, and an apple digital watch; you can link all of them and make your life easy. If you leave your MacBook somewhere, you will get notifications on your phone to remind you. Again, secured software is useless if any malicious person has physical access to the phone. If this ever occurs, then "game over."
Suppose you lose your phone, which has all the data. In that case, you must adopt other preventive measures like logging into your account on another device and trying to delete all the critical data that can be cracked or used against you. For a regular attacker, it is very easy to access encrypted data. It would be best if you used forensic data retrieval software, which is available for public use. It can retrieve any lost data, even if it helps recover manually deleted data or if the mobile has gone to reset.
Wi-Fi or any wireless connection makes mobile susceptible to malicious attacks. The technology of attacking Wi-Fi networks is already present, which makes mobile phones accessible to attackers. If you find free Wi-Fi anywhere, then also think before attaching your phone with it. This free Wi-Fi makes the man-in-the-middle attack (MITM) very easy. Vulnerability in mobile data can also be a back door for scammers. They find any weakness in the connection and quickly hijack the inside of the device—especially the financial accounts or web-based email login. For a small business, if employees use free connection or hotspot services, the stake for a company is very high. If using that network, any worker logged into a social account; then its credentials can be lost forever too.
How to minimize communication interception:
Communication interception can only be minimized if you ask your employees to follow the rules. Set the rules for the company. Use your network. Use encryptions and other protections, especially for your business documents. Man In the middle attack's main aim is to create a hurdle between your action and getting access to your data. Nothing is free in this world; if you find free Wi-Fi, you will be harming the sensitive data of your device. If you notice the phone is connected with free Wi-Fi, you will get notifications you probably need to learn about. Beware of those malware links.
You must secure your wireless connection with a strong password if you are a small enterprise. It will help keep away the persons hijacking your personal information and the ones who tried to use the free network. Install firewall software to protect files and ask your employees to do the same if remotely working. It prevents outsiders from accessing data.
The most powerful, most dangerous, and most damaging attack is phishing. Phishing attack means imposter someone and showing yourself as someone else. It occurs when a third party sends a malicious link, and the business owner considers him a trusted contact which opens the link, downloads the file, or shares the account details and credentials. On opening the link, the user's private data regarding business gets leaked and causes harm to millions of assets. According to a study, Phishing attacks include 90% of all breaches organizations face. Phishing attacks have grown to 65%, accounting for a $12 billion loss to different businesses. When these attacks occur through telephone, it is called vishing. When it is done through text messages, it is called smishing.
Phishing attackers have become cleverer these days. Some reports also say that these attackers pretend to be someone else. In a compromised email, they first got the higher management and executives' password, then impost themselves as accountants and requested customer payments. Not only harming the company's reputation but also a threat to employees. A phishing attack is very damaging because it attacks the human force and technological attacks on the business. It shows the technological weakness of the company. According to a study, employees receive 14 malicious emails per year. ESET's data suggest that 7.3% of email attacks in the year 2021 were under phishing campaigns. During the time of covid 19, these phishing attacks increase by 2%, as the report from IBM suggests. Around holiday times or on black Friday, it increases in number.
How to mitigate phishing attacks:
A study also suggests that 90% of phishing attacks occur with emails. It also shows the importance of emails to cybersecurity. The most common subject lines you need to consider are "Urgent, Quick Action, Important, Attention, Request, payment, etc. it will attack the most vulnerable parts of the businesses. This graph shows the illustration of phishing websites over two years:
There are also some technological defenses to mitigate the risk of Phishing attacks. Having an email security gateway to all your business emails can prevent Phishing emails from reaching your employee's inboxes. These gateways include proof box essentials, Mimecast, and Iron scales. Iron scale is cloud-based email security. It detects any malicious emails and sends a notification to the admin; then, it removes the email from all inboxes.
Multi-factor authentication can also be used to mitigate the risk attached to emails. It confirms the login account more than one time with a one-time password. The password comes from a safety device such as a text message, fingerprint scan, or face ID. With Multi-factor authentication, even if the attacker gets a login or password, he will not enter the account with an extra layer of security.
The final thing you can do against phishing is to train your employees about email security. We will discuss more in detail about training in the end.
Malware attacks are the second largest small businesses. These attacks include spam emails, viruses, or any trojans. Malware range from malicious links to data stealing. It also can occur if you connect your device to another infected device or machine. Mobile includes the data of customers. This threat of malware links is a threat to the company's most important asset, i.e., the customer. A company is nothing without a customer. So, you must protect your customer's data. Malware attacks can cost small businesses more than their resources because data recovery devices are costly. These links can give hackers a secret door, harming employees. Small businesses work at a small place or mostly do remote work. Its employees use their personal computers. It increases the risk of malware downloads.
Malware downloads will encrypt the data files without realizing you will lose the data permanently. So, malware attacks are also the ones business phones face daily.
How to prevent malware attacks:
Malware attacks can be prevented by giving employees your devices to work. Monitor your employees so they cannot attach your business phone to unsafe networks or devices. If you have a little stable business, you can put some cost for defense. You can use technological defence against malware attacks. There is a software named endpoint protection solutions. You can buy that to protect your devices from malware. It will detect any act and send a notification to the admin.
Secondly, we have learned a lot about anti-viruses on our computers. The same is the case with mobile phones. Install anti-malware protection for cross-security of data. Most applications are in the play store or iOS to provide malware protection on mobile phones. There is no need to buy a premium package because it provides a minimal and basic level of protection for free. Malware scanning helps in reducing any suspicious URLs.
It is the most common cyber-attack businesses face on a daily basis. They have become widespread because they are a lucrative form of attack. It involves illegal data encryption, so the company can't access it. After that, they will ask for a ransom to unlock the data. It depends on the company to either pay or loss the data forever. This temporary locking of the data is called ransomware attacks. According to a study, 71% of small businesses face ransomware threats through mobile phones with an average ransom of $116000. The attackers know those small business owners can't afford to lose data because they have to run their businesses and don't have any backups. So, their phones are the perfect place to attack for ransoms'. One example of this attack is in the healthcare sector. It is hazardous if an attendant has all the patient's data stored in a phone. How will the clinic run if they ever come under a ransom attack, and how will their clinic run with patients' data? Hence, for small businesses, it can be very damaging.
How to avoid Ransomware attacks:
To avoid ransomware attacks, all businesses need to have a robust endpoint. So, the attacker can't fully encrypt the data. One software is available for endpoint protection solutions; Sentinel One gives an option 'of ransomware rollback'. By enabling this option, our device will detect any ransomware attack and notify the admin to act effectively.
Another suitable method is to have a cloud backup of all the data. Once you have a backup, your primary data will stay protected. It is very easy to copy the data somewhere else too simply. If the attacker is trying to harm you or tease you, you can ignore the message because you will be one step above him by having the backup. Google the different ways of backup and select according to your organization. This strategy is very beneficial. You will retain productivity, which is an essential step towards improved resilience.
Weak Passwords attack:
Another significant threat your business phone is facing daily has a weak or easily guessed password. Many small businesses use cloud accounts for various purposes. If employees generate weakly or easily guessed passwords to their accounts, then it is a risk that sensitive information in these accounts can be compromised easily. The attackers can easily guess the same passwords on multiple accounts. Mobile is the source where all accounts should have a login all the time; for example, the supply chain manager needs to keep track of the logistics account. An accountant needs to ask for payments and should have a mobile in hand to check the payments. So, a weak password is a threat that business phones face daily.
The company's employees made this mistake because they needed to gain the proper knowledge and awareness of the threat posed by weak passwords. Password is a base on which anything stands. Just think of the damage weak passwords will cause to the company's data. According to research, out of all enterprises, 19% of professionals use weak passwords for their companies. A report finds that 2% of large organizations have weak passwords, 20% of medium-sized businesses have weak passwords, and almost 37% of small enterprises have weak passwords.
How to overcome this:
To prevent a weak password attack, you can first suggest strong passwords to employees. You can use a code language for it. For example, there must be a code for the supply chain manager who will use it in his passwords. The same is the case with other managers. You can add this rule in company rules to protect privacy and security; phones should have strong passwords, especially for small businesses.
You can use business password manager technologies. These technologies provide defenses against weak password attacks. Moreover, they also manage all your accounts' passwords so they can't be cracked easily. Secondly, you can use multi-factor authentication. If every time the need for authenticity makes you overwhelmed, then you can add anything like a face ID or touch password. But always use multi-factor authentication for sensitive data accounts.
The other major threat faced by small businesses is through inside. Inside means any stakeholder who is or was associated with the company. It can be any current employee, supplier, creditor, former employee, or contractor. These inside people have links, and they can easily manipulate and use your information against you through mobile. Verizon found that 25% of data breaches were insider threats. This growing problem can put employees and customers at risk. Employees have access to the accounts they do not need for the job. It is causing permanent damage to the data of the company. Research has found that 62% of employees have access to the accounts they didn't need in business.
How to locate insider threats:
Mobile phones are always at arm's length of everyone. Insider threats can put the future at risk. It is very easy to locate them. If there is an employee inside who is helping someone from outside, then you can quickly know by appointing close security. You should notice the following:
Is someone taking too much interest in sensitive data? Is someone copying data unusually for the job? Is someone acting weird? Is someone downloading data to personal devices?
After locating, you can block insider threats by taking legal action with evidence of a breach. One security measure you can use to protect your business is to take their phones away during work hours. There should be a rule to empty pockets and leave cell phones at the entrance. Also, increase security awareness among employees so if an employee is careless, he can get proper training for it.
Social Media Threats:
Here comes the last and the most demanding threat in today's world. The world is of social media. It is becoming more and more. People are online on their social accounts more than in real life. Large corporations have their separate department named the media department. Other central departments like public relations, customer relations, and customer service are linked with the media department. Social media accounts include the company's Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. These accounts are considered official and should be handled carefully. Since the article's introduction, we have been discussing small and medium-sized enterprises. SMEs need proper resources and a separate place to work. Most of them are working remotely. So, their account handling is also through mobiles.
They need to send messages to the customers regularly, demand payments, and also marketing campaigns from the mobile. Mobile is a precious asset for them. The customer sends order details through mobile. So, a threat to social media is the biggest. Their target market is in social media, and mobile is the bridge. They have to post different offers through mobile. The threat can be the hacking of these accounts. Someone from outside or inside can use any of the campaigns discussed above as phishing, malware, ransomware, etc., to get the account login. They can manipulate and show your clients as the company representative and can have access to them. Social media, as help in growth, can also be a means of a bad reputation. One nasty comment can destroy your reputation in the business world, and a small business can't afford that.
Social media security tips:
You must devise a social media policy if your company is using social media accounts. How can you make a social media policy? You should train your employees to refrain from using official accounts freely outside the organization. Social media policy should also include guidelines for social platforms. All of the employees should not be given login credentials for the social media pages. Only trusted and most closely linked employees should be given the credentials. Moreover, it should also be in the company's policy that everything, whether it is an Instagram post, Facebook post, or a tweet, should be verified by the concerned department. No mediator should interfere with social media posts.
Social media is the platform to communicate with customers. If you have the right guidance through social platforms, then you will retain your market share in that country or market. Small businesses should be more meticulous about it because of fewer available resources. They can't afford it. Guidelines about confidentiality and password sharing should be cleared for employees. Train employees to deal with social media security tips. Set up system approvals for social media posts. And lastly, monitor social media platforms yourself. It is the biggest threat your business phones are facing daily.
The following are the social media management tools:
- Social monitoring
- Zero FOX
- Social safeguard
- Brand Fort
- Hootsuite Amplify
Approaches For Employees Of Mobile-Based Enterprise:
Three approaches for employees can be adopted in a business to protect mobile devices. These approaches should be in the job description of every job. Let's discuss each one of them separately:
BYOD: It means bringing your device to the workplace. It helps businesses reduce the cost of the devices they give everyone. This approach also helps make your employees comfortable with their devices and workflow. This approach comes with a price for your company's reputation. Employees are the representatives of the company. If any of them have ever done any malicious act with their device outside the organization, it will have a very damaging effect.
COPE means "Company Owned, Personally Enabled" The most secure way is COPE. It means the company will own the devices, but the employee will allow to use them for personal uses too. This strategy will develop the trust of employees. They will feel more job engagement and will stay loyal throughout their job.
CYOD: It means "choose your device". Sometimes this method will become invasive because the IT team is monitoring every move of the employees. It will reduce the business risk, but employees will be more conscious about using their social accounts. It has the benefit of business software and security pre-installed. It has the disadvantage that employees will not have loyalty to the company. They will be more concerned about the leakage of privacy.
Again, it depends on the business which approach it should use especially mobile enterprises. The primary security threats are for mobile enterprises. If you use the BYOD, COPE, or CYOD approach, consider the employee mindset and use the most comfortable approach.
Security Awareness Training For Employees:
Security awareness training is an hour of need because of the increasing risks of security attacks on enterprises. Security awareness training is the best way you can avoid the circumstances of cyberattacks. It includes training employees through online software. The software provides online training programs for end users. Employers then make quizzes and assessments to ensure employees learn well or engage with the material. Some employers also use simulated phishing attacks to know how well the employee has learned.
Following is some security awareness training software:
- ESET Cybersecurity Awareness Training
- Hook PsySec Security Awareness Training
- Safe Titan
- IRON SCALES
- Proofpoint security awareness training
- Infosec IQ
IT security team and individual employees are highly responsible for the security of the business. So, some duties apply to both of them.
IT department has the responsibility to check double security and protection. They should check the access, security updates, encryption of data, password checking, or continuous monitoring.
Employees have the responsibility of keeping data safe and not giving access to anyone outside the organization, and applying multiple other authentications. Employees must follow all rules and regulations and never try to use free Wi-Fi when working remotely.
Small and medium-sized enterprises need more security measures than large corporations. Because large corporations have advanced technologies and can easily protect themselves or buy expensive secure mechanisms. But in the case of remote working and mobile-based enterprises, several threats are here to come over them. There are several threats business mobiles are facing daily. It includes malware attacks, phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, weak password attacks, physical access, communication interception, and social media attacks. All of them are equally damaging to the business. Their prevention methods are also being discussed. The after-effects are also discussed above if you have ever been into an attack. These threats are now multi-diverse because technology is constantly advancing. Adopting new things and new challenges is the way of the world. Like our world is in continuous change, technology is too. Fraudulent or malicious actions are also evolving. Hackers are finding new ways to attack a business phone. Like a big fish in water, business mobiles are goldfish for hackers. Because it contains data of many customers, and accounts of many lines of products, especially for e-commerce. SMEs are targets of hackers, and the good thing for them is that they can't afford to lose data.
First, we discussed the description of threats small businesses face daily then we discussed some measures to stop them or avoid them. To recover files, there are lists of software present. Then I discussed three approaches on which any company can operate. These three approaches include BYOD, COPE, and CYOD. Companies can adopt any of the three approaches based on the mindset and resources of employees. The long-lasting measure which can be used against threats is to give training to your employees. Training can be in the form of videos. End users, after watching videos, have to pass the simulations of phishing attacks. So that they can learn practically how well they are developed.
To conclude the discussion, there are many business phone threats which can be mitigated. As a disease exists, its cure also exists naturally. So, these threats are not to be feared, but you must be more vigilant about them. There are some duties for employees of the company like fairness, honesty, loyalty, and not giving login credentials to outside. The duties of the IT team include checking the security and updates in software and giving their employees the best system. The crux of the matter is there are threats, and there are solutions. Choose your side wisely!
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