The current conversation often pits privacy against security, both in consumer and enterprise settings. This is especially true in the debate over whether mobile encryption is essential for the average user. However, not wanting to have personal information shared, acted on, or used by anyone without permission should be seen as a universal right.
Why? Because today, being proactive about privacy is no longer about trying to hide from authorities. Privacy plays into a much bigger picture; it goes hand-in-hand with security and protecting you, as well as everyone in your personal and professional life, from potentially being exposed by increasing cyberthreats.
Privacy & Security Standards on Mobile? There Aren't Any
Although consumers have a much better understanding of today's online threats, awareness of how vulnerable and exposed mobile devices are to cyber attacks, breaches, and unwanted spying is still extremely low. This is primarily driven by the misconception that the services and applications available on mobile devices today are secure and private. However, as has been shown by several major data leaks this year (such as with Docs.com), this is not the case.
The unfortunate truth is that organizations can choose to invest in as little or as much security as they want. They also have complete control over privacy options. For example, as part of Pokémon Go's user policy, users give an increased amount of privileges and some legal rights if they don't "opt out" of the legal waiver in writing. The opt-out process is valid only if exercised within 30 days following the date a user first accepts the app's terms and conditions. Users who installed the app gave Nintendo the right to access all of their contact addresses and even send emails on their behalf.
Moreover, many companies and app developers today deprioritize security over other functionality. That's because in today's fast-moving technology ecosystem, the ROI for security isn't perceived to be there. Security also takes time, ongoing investment, and resources.
Why Privacy Needs to Matter to Businesses
Because of the relaxed security and privacy standards across mobile applications and services, the mobile ecosystem has slowly become a stomping ground for cybercriminals.
Today, there are many different ways cybercriminals can launch an attack to breach sensitive information and gain access to credentials, be it attacking through a vulnerable cloud service, WiFi network, malicious apps, SMS phishing, email attack, or social media network. The problem continues to grow worse. In 2016, 8.5 million mobile malware attacks were discovered, which was a threefold increase over 2015.
Although research suggests that consumers have a better understanding of the threats on mobile devices today, the landscape is rapidly evolving. Cybercriminals increasingly are opting to target human vulnerabilities over technical exploits because of the huge success rate. With the bring-your-own-device trend, this makes mobile security and privacy critical for a business’s safety today. Although an organization may not necessarily have the information it needs to hide, it does have things it needs to protect, including data and employees. If steps aren't taken to address the social and technical threats that employees face today, the risk of corporate information being exposed via an employee's phone is near certain.
In addition, organizations must understand that a 360-degree approach is needed to address mobile security. Businesses not only need to adopt advanced technologies but also make education a critical piece of their strategy. Given mobile phones are foremost a consumer problem, employees need education about how their personal mobile phone behaviors could lead to a major company breach.
- 8 Things Every Security Pro Should Know about GDPR
- If Blockchain Is the Answer, What Is the Security Question?
- Activists Beware: The Latest In 3G & 4G Spying (video)
Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.