Nearshore Americas

Why Hackers Love Your Mobile Devices and What You Can Do About It

The use of online resources for conducting business has multiplied, leading to an increase in the opportunities for hackers to attack. Implementation of cloud-based software exploded thanks to remote work models, and companies were left unprepared, lacking adequate cybersecurity protection. 

Individuals, companies, organizations and governments have been exposed to greater risk in recent years. Additionally, hackers target mobile phones due to the ease of access to the information which all phones contain.

According to data published by Statista, 8 million cases of data breaches were reported in Q4 of 2023. As of that year, the average cost of a data breach for businesses worldwide reached $US4.45 million.

Storing passwords and two-factor authentication in mobile phones has become common practice. Getting a text message with a secure verification code while logging in makes you feel safe. It is possible, however, for hackers to gain access to your online accounts by taking control of your mobile phone.

It takes but a single device

For many businesses, the weakest link in their cyberdefenses might be the security of the mobile phones and other devices connected to the Internet and which are used by their employees. 

A hacker can gain access to the entire network of a company by breaking into just one unprotected mobile device, be that a phone, laptop or tablet. 

This makes small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) particularly vulnerable. SMBs can be crippled severely by hacking, leading to revenue loss, operational disruption, data asset compromises and irreparable damage to customer relationships.

It is possible to prevent cyber-attacks by taking defensive measures, however. Let’s begin by understanding why hackers target mobile devices.

  1. Access to passwords: The majority of users use the same password across all their mobile devices and applications, which makes a hacker’s job easy. They can easily break into a corporate network if they figure out the password of a laptop connected to it. For intruders, mobile devices are an entryway to a world of opportunities. In the particular case of mobile phones, which are never turned off, it is easy for attackers to perform nefarious acts on them.
  2. Access to company data: Mobile phones contain a large amount of personal and professional data. A mobile device used for corporate email or for accessing other work-related applications is a goldmine for hackers if it is compromised. On mobile devices, all emails and attachments reside in one folder, so hackers know exactly where to find data and download it.
  3. Spy on your mobile: Your microphone or camera can also be turned on by cybercriminals if they gain control of your device. A hacker who accesses your device also has access to your contacts and your calendar, so they can plot just the right time to trigger the recording function. As an example, once a hacker compromises a CEO’s phone, they can hear every word the CEO says while negotiating a deal.
  4. Easy malware delivery: Mobile phones are easy to infect with malware if users visit unknown websites and play games on unsecured platforms using their phones. A malicious program can steal personal information, install adware or even force app downloads once it has entered the device.
  5. Third-party software: The term “third-party software” refers to software applications created by someone other than the manufacturer. There is a risk of infecting your device with malicious software when you download apps from these third-party stores. Hackers can access sensitive information stored on your device with the help of malware.

Keep it clean and safe

Mobile digital hygiene is a must in today’s times. Knowing how to secure mobile devices –used for either personal or professional purposes– is essential. With that in mind, organizations should take the following precautions: 

  • Block external threats (malware, viruses, etc.) with a perimeter protection firewall, enabling the administrator to maintain control over the company’s network, systems and data.
  • Provide secure access to specific company apps and data without exposing the entire network for those who need it.
  • Protect company employees’ mobile devices with a cloud-based security solution that works wherever they are.

Individuals should also take responsibility for the security of their devices. Here are some recommendations:

  • Avoid using easy-to-guess passwords such as “1234”, birth dates and auto-login settings that save passwords.
  • Avoid accessing sensitive information (such as bank accounts) when using an unsecured public Wi-Fi network.
  • Use the phone’s auto-erase function if there are doubts that a device has been compromised.
  • Download apps only from the App Store, Google Play or other trusted sources that screen and remove suspicious apps regularly.

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Mobile phones have become an attractive target for hackers due to their heavy usage and the amount of information they carry. Furthermore, mobile phone security has just remained limited to a security lock pattern or password. 

Cybersecurity threats evolve and become more sophisticated. That’s why companies should keep up to date with the latest cybersecurity tools in hopes of remaining one step ahead of hackers.

Anand Chandrashaker

Anand’s team is responsible for identifying client needs and deploying transformation levers that bring together technology and business domains – through levers such as analytics, process mining, automation, and implementation of proprietary / COTS solutions. He has managed a variety of roles in the past that includes FP&A, Corporate Strategy, M&A, and post-merger Integration.

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