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5/16/2017
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Study: Rooted Androids, Jailbroken iPhones Found in Enterprises

A study released today gives greater insight into some of the worst fears for security pros trying to manage employees' BYOD mobile phones.

A jailbroken iPhone or a rooted Android phone that connects to the corporate network is one of the greatest fears of CISOs and other security team members, according to a new study.

Their fears are not unfounded. Mobile security firm Lookout Security found five in every 1,000 Android devices in enterprises were rooted, while one in every 1,000 iPhones device was jailbroken. Lookout's data came from consumer and corporate data from over 100 million Android and iOS devices around the globe over the past 12 months.

In order to jailbreak an iPhone or root an Android device, the security features need to be turned off first. Once the security measures are set aside, attackers can then infiltrate the smartphones and steal data, says Andrew Blaich, a security researcher for Lookout.

The second-most concern for security teams are mobile apps. Users are living dangerously when downloading mobile apps from anywhere other than the sanctioned Apple Store or Google Play Store, Blaich says. Over a six-month period, Lookout discovered that on average 11 out of every 100 iOS devices had apps that were sideloaded onto the device.

Based on a review of more than 100 million Android and iOS devices, the study found that roughly a third of the apps retrieved more information than would appear necessary:

  • 30% of apps access to contact information
  • 30% of apps access GPS information
  • 31% of apps access calendar information
  • 39% access the smartphone's microphone
  • 75% access the camera

In some cases, even the app developers were not aware that their games app, for example, was copying calendar information off of a phone. "Developers may use an SDK to create the app and not be fully aware of the potential of the SDK to pull in more information than they were aware of," Blaich says.

As a result, app behaviors like these can potentially violate a corporate policy because sensitive company data may be leaking out, which in turn could lead to a significant compliance risk for the company.

The network is the third major area CISOs and security professionals need to monitor, as it relates to mobile devices. Blaich says networks face the big risk of potentially having its traffic intercepted and then re-directed via a man-in-the-middle attack.

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Dawn Kawamoto is an Associate Editor for Dark Reading, where she covers cybersecurity news and trends. She is an award-winning journalist who has written and edited technology, management, leadership, career, finance, and innovation stories for such publications as CNET's ... View Full Bio

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