Why is mobile security important?
Why is mobile security important?
Mobile users are the main driving force behind the growth of internet access across the world. Especially in developing countries, where fewer people have access to personal computers, increasingly affordable data plans and cheap mobile devices allow more and more people gain access to online services. Moreover, rapid growth of mobile connection speeds around the world is a major factor contributing to mobile use. Over two thirds of the global population now have a mobile phone. Mobile devices account for 52% of global internet traffic. The downside of the growing popularity of mobile connectivity is that mobile devices are likely to become increasingly targeted by all sorts of malware. To enhance personal mobile security, 22% of users install VPN on their mobile devices (15% - on their phone, and 7% - on the tablet).
What makes mobile devices a particularly lucrative target?
Portability and size. Mobile devices are so easy to lose. The best that can happen with a lost or stolen mobile phone is it will be wiped clean of all your personal data and sold at a flea market next to a snatched camera and a pair of worn socks. The worst thing that can happen to a stolen phone - if it has no passcode or other locking mechanism - is your personal data will be directly misused or sold separately from the hardware.
Rich personal data. We love smartphones because of their convenience and ability to provide us with technical assets for everyday task management. We collect geotagged photos from our lives (and often task our phone with uploading them directly to the cloud), we install apps to control personal health metrics, to travel (access city bikes, book tickets for domestic and international travel), not to mention gazillions of messages exchanged with our personal and business contacts on a daily basis.
Tons of metadata. Mobile device is something we carry on us almost at all times. It collects, whether we like it or not, vast amounts of metadata about our communications and movements. When you use a Maps app on your phone you allow it to detect your current location in order to calculate an optimal route to your destination, or find suitable cafés and bars in the area.
Personal data you store on your phone, along with ample metadata is what contributes to your digital profile. The place where you start your Google Maps journey most often is probably your home address, and the place where you travel on Christmas day is probably where your family lives. Your connection metadata (what public networks you connect to most often) can reveal a lot about your favourite cafés and bars. Cross-referencing the routes you've taken on public transit with your call metadata (when and who you call) or with your friends' addresses in the contact list can provide an insight into your social activities, identify your closest friends, and patterns of your interaction over a period of time. Not to mention that the articles you read, and videos you watch may reveal a lot about your political and religious affiliations.
Mobile security is a pressing issue both for businesses and for individual users - not least because the two are often connected. Some companies have a strict policy of banning personal mobile devices in the workplace, or connecting personal mobile devices to the office network. It is important to understand that vital component of any cyberattack is social engineering. Two most common ways for your device to be compromised is if you physically lose it, or if you inadvertently open it to ‘hackers' by clicking on a dodgy link in the messenger, or by installing an app whose design leaves a lot of space for exploitation of vulnerabilities.
What is the most common activity for mobile internet users?
Well, social media of course. Facebook still dominates the global social media landscape (over 95% of Facebook users access it on the phone), with YouTube being a close second.
Messaging services are a close second. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger share and equal amount of global users, followed by Chinese WeChat and QQ (Facebook and WhatsApp are blocked in China).
E-commerce (goods and services) has experienced radical growth in recent years, and it is increasingly adapting to mobile users by creating mobile browser versions of the platform or apps with improved mobile user experience. Mobile purchases are projected to occupy almost 73% of total e-commerce share by 2021 - worldwide, and the growth is particularly steep in the Chinese market. Protecting your financial data is, of course, a number one priority for those who shop online on their mobile phones. But when it comes to online shopping, it is not just your credit card information you need to be careful about. Your purchase habits, your social circles, your shopping schedules are all metadata sought after by advertisers and potential hackers.
7 in 10 apps collect your personal data and share it with third parties, specifically ad services that subsequently bombard you with targeted advertising. Ever wondered why you start getting ads for magical hair loss treatment after you searched an online store for a 'toupee' for your Halloween costume? Even more creepy is data harvesting designed into phone and tablet apps for children - logging location and network metadata of each user.
Despite the evolving privacy laws in some jurisdictions (like the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU), protecting the mobile device and personal data you store on it is each individual's responsibility. Encrypting your mobile data, being careful about the apps you install on the smartphone, avoiding public WiFi - and using VPN when you have to connect to it - these are just the minimum of measures one can take to ensure personal mobile security.
More information about VPNs and how can they improve your mobile security: https://vpnpro.com/