The Struggle to Protect Mobile Devices from Malware

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Enterprise Mobility Management Myth Busters: Users vs. IT Reality

A serious struggle is going on to protect mobile devices from malware, according to a number of recent reports.

The Nokia Threat Intelligence Report for the first half of 2016 found a significant surge in mobile malware infections during the first six months of 2016 when compared to the last half of 2015. And, the report added, mobile malware infections hit an all-time high in April 2016, with 1.06 percent of all devices infected during that time. That doesn’t sound like much, just barely over 1 percent, but if you think of all the devices out there, the number is staggering.

What types of devices are most at risk? Probably not surprisingly, Android operated devices, as eSecurity Planet explained:


Android devices were the most targeted, representing 74 percent of all mobile malware infections, compared to Windows (22 percent) and other platforms, including iOS (4 percent). The total number of infected Android apps in Nokia's malware database grew by 75 percent from 5.1 million in December 2015 to 8.9 million in July 2016.

In fact, an Appthority Q3 report discussed major vulnerabilities surfacing in Android apps. Although Godless, LevelDropper and Overlay have recently surfaced in the Google Play Store, all in the month of June, malware is a problem that’s found in app stores in general, the report stated:

Despite app vetting processes that include basic security checks, both Apple and Google have been challenged by app developers circumventing security protocols to introduce malware via apps that are vetted for and available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

The report added that it is important for businesses not to rely on the app marketplaces to vet the apps for security. While yes, they are safer than downloading from third parties, app markets, the report said, simply aren’t able (or willing?) to provide enterprise-level security for these applications.

This increase in mobile malware comes at a time when companies aren’t putting enough effort into mobile security, as ITProPortal reported:

A 2016 survey of 1000 IT executives globally, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Blackberry, found that the overwhelming majority of executives are worried about risks from mobile computing, with half saying they expect to experience more security breaches through those mobile devices. Yet less than 50 percent of respondents have a mobile device management strategy in place.

I started this piece saying there is a serious struggle to secure mobile devices. One reason, as we just read, is because of the proliferation of mobile malware. But the other reason is that there isn’t enough being done to address security, both from the app developer/seller side and from the business/personal management side. The threats are there. When will they be given the attention needed to ensure more secure mobile computing?

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba.

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