Mobile devices allow users to do business wherever they go. Thanks to the expansion of international trade, mobile connections have become essential in many business strategies. We can be connected anytime, anywhere: on airplanes and in cars, at home, in a hotel or cafeteria, and in the office.
When we talk about mobile devices, we are referring to devices such as lightweight laptops and subnotebooks, tablets, smartphones and personal digital assistants.
At the same time, the increase in the use of mobile devices means that security is a very important factor for protect confidential information. Almost all devices are connected to the Internet, which opens the door to malicious attacks targeting confidential company documents, emails, photos, videos, as well as any other personal information, such as banking information or the contact list.
1.- Threats on mobile devices
The root cause of the greatest security risks associated with mobile devices is precisely the fact that you can take them wherever you want. Mobile devices are not only vulnerable to malicious attacks, they are also vulnerable to malicious threats within the enterprise.
Mobile devices use the technology of wireless networks to connect to networks, which are more vulnerable to attack than wired networks. It is also easier to access the information that is being transported. These services can also store data that is often unprotected. They are vulnerable to network attacks and are easy targets for theft, which can lead to the inappropriate use of sensitive information.
Mobile devices have also become popular targets for malware. Malware is often programmed to use an infected device as a means to spread to other devices. Hardware features like webcams and microphones are easy entry points with associated protocols and software.
Threats to mobile device security fall into three broad categories: physical threats, malware threats and wireless threats.
1.1- Physical threats
Physical threats are theft or loss of devices. Theft and loss are a direct threat to the data stored on the device, as normally no measures will be put in place to protect it. Users can help avoid this situation by being more careful with their mobile devices and doing everything possible to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands.
Siempre que sea posible, los usuarios malintencionados usarán los datos compromometidos para iniciar ataques contra la infraestructura y los sistemas de TI de su organización, lo que puede afectar a la confidencialidad del cliente, la pérdida de información corporativa, así como perjuduticar a the organization.
1.2- Malicious threats
Malware threats for mobile devices are the same as for desktops, and become even more destructive. This happens mainly because Antivirus programs for mobile devices have not been developed to the same level as those for desktop computers.
Some of the most popular types of malware include: viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, backdoor, adware, rootkit, spam and spim, among others.
1.3- Threats on wireless networks
A wireless network is a network of devices connected to each other using wireless technology. The network may also include a few wired components, but communication is usually done wirelessly. Normally, connections are made through different wavelengths or low frequency electromagnetic waves. This type of network is called wireless local area network or WLAN.
The fact that the network is wireless exposes it to anyone with the right type of network interface. In fact, eavesdropping on a wireless network is similar to eavesdropping on a conversation that is understood in the language in which it is spoken.
This means that wireless networks are considerably less secure than wired networks, if access is not tightly controlled. Network intrusions can lead to theft and damage to data, which can adversely affect a business’s operations.
There are two types of threats associated with attacks over WLANs:
- Guard Service: Consists of scanning for unsecured WLANs using a laptop or mobile device from a moving vehicle. An unsecured WLAN is typically a network controlled by an unencrypted access point, also known as an AP.
- Chalkchalk: consists of signaling unsecured WLANs that have been discovered thanks to wardriving by drawing symbols or letters in the area where they are located.
Bluetooth is a communication system via a short range wireless network commonly used in mobile phones, smartphones and laptops. Bluetooth devices are divided into three classes that allow communication over a distance of one to one hundred meters.
Perhaps the most common uses of Bluetooth on mobile devices are hands-free use of the device and short-distance communication between devices.
There are three main reasons for concern related to the use of Bluetooth devices:
- Authentication and authorization: the Bluetooth connection between two devices is authenticated by exchanging passwords configured on each device. Passwords should be changed frequently to optimize security. However, the default key is usually not changed. You can protect your device by viewing the sync list, a list that shows the devices currently connected to your device.
- device discovery– Discover mode is an essential part of the Bluetooth device, allowing a device to be discovered so that it can connect to another Bluetooth enabled device. This could make it easier for a potential attacker to find your device in a crowd, even if you keep it in your pocket or purse. You can turn off Bluetooth detection to protect your device.
- malware– Bluetooth devices are also vulnerable to malware, especially worms, and application security. The best way to protect your device is to make sure the firmware is up to date and to know which devices are connected to yours.
There are two types of attacks via Bluetooth:
- Bluejackings: is the use of a bluetooth connection to send unsolicited messages, photos or videos that can transmit malware to a mobile device.
- Bluesnarfinges– Take advantage of a weak point of a Bluetooth connection to bypass the authentication procedure and access a device. The latest Bluetooth updates fixed this latest vulnerability. However, the 4-digit password is still vulnerable to brute force methods used to guess the password.
2.- Protect mobile devices
It is important that all users understand the importance of protecting mobile devices and the serious repercussions of neglect.
The data encryption it is essential and offers a high level of security for data transmitted over a wireless network. It also protects data stored on a device that has been lost or stolen, as it cannot be read without the corresponding decryption key.
Data encryption also plays a vital role in protecting wireless networks against wardriving and warchalking. There are two common protocols for encrypting data on a network:
- WEP: the WEP protocol (from Equivalent wired confidentiality) can be used on older and newer devices. However, it is not as popular as WPA because its encryption system is not perfect.
- WPA: the WPA protocol (from English Protected Wi-Fi access) improves and resolves the encryption problems presented by the WEP protocol. WPA also allows the device to authenticate with a network server.
The information security department of an organization usually has a centralized tool to implement a security policy on devices by performing the following procedures: the use of passwords, content encryption, remote application deployment and, in the event of loss of the device, use of the remote lock and wipe function.
In addition, you must have an accepted mobile device usage policy that you must follow.
For wireless devices to work on a WLAN, all devices must use the same network name, called SSID. Service set identifier), which can be up to 32 characters long. Also consider setting up a wireless network to ensure that transmissions are protected from external attacks.
A setting like this would disable SSID broadcast. In most cases, the WLAN hardware comes from the factory with a default SSID, so it is recommended to change it first. Many administrators replace this name with a logical name that can identify the network, but it is more advisable to create a word with absurd characters.
When you disable SSID broadcast, potential attackers will not be able to connect to the network without knowing the SSID. You will need to configure each device to use the new SSID when connecting to the network. While this creates an additional level of security, it still does not offer complete protection against unauthorized access.
End users have an important role to play in protecting sensitive information. Above all, you need to make sure that you never stop monitoring your mobile device because anyone could steal it. This is even more important when you travel because you don’t know your surroundings.
You can also require the power-on authentication for mobile devices connecting to the network. This feature will prompt the user for a password or PIN code even before the device is fully operational.
Most devices have an auto-lock feature that activates when it has not been used for a while. You can also configure a password you must enter to unlock the device. Additionally, you can encrypt your device data to protect it in the event of loss or theft.
There are other issues you need to resolve to protect your device and data: password security, program privacy, backups, instant messaging and email, and Bluetooth.