Mobilizing Cyber Security.

As our lives become more dependent upon instant communication, a growing number of people are purchasing some type of mobile device allowing on the spot Internet access. In “The mobile web in numbers,”  Royal Pingdom offered the following statistics regarding mobile devices and the massive amount of data trafficked and consumed by their users:

  • 5.9 billion – The estimated number of mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2011.
  • 13% – The smartphone share of all mobile handsets in use worldwide.
  • 78% – The percentage of worldwide mobile data traffic that is consumed by smartphones.
  • 1.6 billion – Number of mobile devices sold to end users in 2010, an increase of almost 32% compared to the year before.
  • 19% – The percentage of worldwide mobile devices sold that were smartphones.
  • 472 million – Number of smartphones estimated to be sold worldwide in 2011.
  • 982 million – Estimated number of smartphones to be sold in 2015.
  • 80% – The share of devices accessing mobile websites that have a touchscreen.
  • 50 million – The number of people worldwide who have a mobile phone but that do not have electricity at home. In other words, mobile access has further reach than electricity.

In addition, they went on to cite the following statistics for mobile web browsing:

With numbers like this, it’s easy to see how important it is for consumers  to protect themselves when accessing the Internet from some form of mobile device.   In a report entitled “Today’s Mobile Cybersecurity Protected, Secured and Unified,”  CTIA, The Wireless Association suggests adhering to the following practices :

  • Configure Devices to Be more Secure – Smartphones and other  mobile devices have password features that lock the devices on a scheduled basis. After a predetermined period of time of inactivity (e.g., one minute, two minutes, etc.) the device requires the correct PIN or password to be entered. Encryption, remote-wipecapabilities and – depending on the operating system – anti-virus software may also serve to improve security.
  • “Caveat Link” – Beware of suspicious links. Do not click on links in suspicious emails or text messages as they may lead to malicious websites.
  • Exercise Caution Downloading apps – Avoid applications from unauthorized application stores. Some application stores vet apps so they do not contain malware. Online research on an app before downloading is often a sound first step.
  • Check Permissions – Check the access (i.e., access to which segments of your mobile device) that an application requires, including Web-based applications, browsers and native applications.
  • Know your Network – Avoid using unknown Wi-Fi networks and use public Wi-Fi hot spots sparingly. Hackers can create “honeypot” Wi-Fi hot spots intended to attract, and subsequentlycompromise, mobile devices. Similarly, they troll public Wi-Fi spots looking for unsecured devices. If you have Wifi at home, enable encryption.
  • Don’t Publish your mobile Phone Number – Posting your mobile phone number on a public website can make it a target for software programs that crawl the Web collecting phone numbers that may later receive spam, if not outright phishing attacks.
  • Use your Mobile Device as it Was Setup – Some people use third-party firmware to override settings on their mobile devices (e.g., enabling them to switch service providers). Such “jailbreaking” or “rooting” can result in malware or malicious code infecting the mobile devices.

Remember that while mobile devices such as smartphones provide convenience and ease of access to the Internet and the vast warehouse of data it contains, they also provide yet another opportunity for Cybercriminals to strike.