At Risk: Global Mobile Threat Study Finds Security Vulnerabilities at all Time Highs for Mobile Devices
In a global mobile threat study released today, Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) found that enterprise and consumer mobile devices are exposed to a record number of security threats, including a 400 percent increase in Android malware, as well as highly targeted Wi-Fi attacks. Through close examination of recent malware exploits, the study outlines new areas of concern and delivers clear recommendations on essential security technologies and practices to help consumers, enterprises/SMBs, and government entities guard against mobile device exploits.
With smartphones set to eclipse PCs as the preferred method of both personal and professional computing, cyber criminals have turned their attention to mobile devices. At the same time, the gap between hacker capabilities and an organization’s defenses is widening. These trends underscore the need for further mobile security awareness, as well as more stringent, better integrated mobile security policies and solutions.
“The last 18 months have produced a non-stop barrage of newsworthy threat events, and while most had been aimed at traditional desktop computers, hackers are now setting their sights on mobile devices. Operating system consolidation and the massive and growing installed base of powerful mobile devices is tempting profit-motivated hackers to target these devices,” Jeff Wilson, principle analyst, Security at Infonetics Research. “In a recent survey of large businesses, we found that nearly 40 percent considered smartphones the device type posing the largest security threat now. Businesses need security tools that provide comprehensive protection: from the core of the network to the diverse range of endpoints that all IT shops are now forced to manage and secure.”
The report, “Malicious Mobile Threats Report 2010/2011” was compiled by the Juniper Networks Global Threat Center (GTC) research facility, a unique organization dedicated to conducting around-the-clock security, vulnerability and malware research tailored specifically to mobile device platforms and technologies. The GTC examines increasingly sophisticated attacks from 2010 and 2011, such as, Myournet/Droid Dream, Tap Snake and Geinimi as well as the pirating of the “Walk and Text” application, new threat vectors for mobile cybercrime, and the potential for exploitation and misuse of mobile devices and data.
Key Report Findings Include:
- App Store Anxiety: The single greatest distribution point for mobile malware is application download, yet the vast majority of smartphone users are not employing an antivirus solution on their mobile device to scan for malware
- Wi-Fi Worries: Mobile devices are increasingly susceptible to Wi-Fi attacks, including applications that enable an attacker to easily log into victim email and social networking applications
- The Text Threat: 17 percent of all reported infections were due to SMS trojans that sent SMS messages to premium rate numbers, often at irretrievable cost to the user or enterprise
- Device Loss and Theft: 1 in 20 Juniper customer devices were lost or stolen, requiring locate, lock or wipe commands to be issued
- Risky Teen Behavior: 20 percent of all teens admit sending inappropriate or explicit material from a mobile device
- “Droid Distress”: The number of Android malware attacks increased 400 percent since Summer 2010
“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 ameans 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.”
In order to guard against growing mobile malware threats, the report recommends the following:
- 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
For Enterprises, Government agencies and SMBs:
- Employ on-device anti-malware to protect against malicious applications, spyware, infected SD cards and malware-based attacks against the mobile device
- Use SSL VPN clients to effortlessly protect data in transit and ensure appropriate network authentication and access rights
- Centralize locate and remote lock, wipe, backup and restore facilities for lost and stolen devices
- Strongly enforce security policies, such as mandating the use of strong PINs/Passcodes
- Leverage tools to help monitor device activity for data leakage and inappropriate use
- Centralize mobile device administration to enforce and report on security policies
The Juniper Networks Global Threat Center is based out of Juniper Networks Mobile Center of Excellence located in Columbus, OH. The Malicious Mobile Threats Report 2010/2011 report can be viewed here.