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article imageOp-Ed: Top mobile security issues to be concerned about

By Leigh Goessl     Mar 17, 2013 in Technology
As mobile use continues to increase, the security issues associated with mobile is also on the rise. A report last fall indicated that variants of malicious software aimed at mobile has become a growing problem.
Mobile use has exploded over the past several years and forecasts anticipate this trend will continue to rise exponentially. According to CISCO, mobile data traffic grew 70 percent in 2012.
A report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in September 2012 said the number of variants of malicious software targeting mobile gadgets rose 185 percent in under a year.
Cybercriminals tend to go where they can hit pay dirt, and currently mobile is one of the most lucrative ways scammers can hit the jackpot. Mobile users can better protect themselves by keeping up-to-date on the latest threats.
Here are five of the top mobile security issues users need to be concerned about:
Mobile apps
Apps are convenient and add value to the mobile experience. The problem is many rogue apps containing malware end up being downloaded onto mobile devices. For years, computer users have had to worry about Trojans, malicious programs disguised as something useful or interesting. In the age of mobile, apps that look to be useful may not be what they appear to be at all.
Mobile banking is expected to skyrocket: By the end of 2007  a quarter of existing online banking us...
Mobile banking is expected to skyrocket: By the end of 2007, a quarter of existing online banking users will adopt banking via cellphone. - Photo illustration by Digital Journal
Another factor is some users do not keep legitimate apps up-to-date with patches or developers may not release updates. Additionally, users may not realize they should be running security software, but yet are doing banking, mobile shopping social networking, checking email, doing work or sharing other sensitive information online.
Data security
Convenience is one of the top advantages often linked to mobile. Yet that convenience can equate to risk. As a recent Digital Journal report titled, "Consumers be alert, especially when using high tech conveniences," pointed out, people do not always consider the vulnerabilities that come with convenience.
If vendors do not update operating systems or other critical software used on the various types of mobile devices, this also could put data at risk. Also, some manufacturers may not support older devices to provide updates.
Insecure Wi-Fi and rogue access points
Wi-Fi is a terrific convenience, but security risks may come with using it. The transmissions may not be encrypted and data can be intercepted. Or there have been some instances of rogue access being established and users unknowingly send data straight to the exploiters.
“As we move further into an era where mobile computing is ubiquitous, we're seeing an entirely new threat landscape that involves newer concerns like lost devices and rogue marketplaces, but also a heightened level of concern over insecure public Wi-Fi as we rely more and more on access as we travel." said Dan Hubbard, CTO of OpenDNS, reported Info Security Magazine.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
As more and more people travel with mobile gadget in hand, this opens up a slew of security issues. Employers can potentially unknowingly open up their networks for online exploits, notes a recent MaaSters Center report.
Employers not having descriptive security protocol in place for employees to follow or become complacent over investing in security solutions can increasingly open up the risks of hacks, data breaches and more.
Not using security software or firewalls
PC World reported that many mobile devices do not come bundled with security software and users often neglect to install it themselves. MaaSters Center also noted that "jailbreaking" or "rooting" a phone can also create security risks because users deprive themselves of vendor-issued security updates and open the phone to cybercriminals with the vulnerabilities that exist.
Other risks noted by experts include lack of password-protecting phones. If a phone or other mobile device is lost or stolen, any data on the phone can be misused. Passwords add another layer of security.
Shopping using a smart phone
Shopping using a smart phone
Although, some experts suggest that passwords may not be enough, and biometrics of various types are likely going to play a strong role in the future of security. Digital Journal recently reported on a new technology developed by a company called EyeVerify which focuses on scanning a user's eye whites as a biometric solution.
In addition to no passwords, last fall the GAO (courtesy PC World) also found that many users do not use two-factor authentication, meaning two steps have to be taken before access is given. Using the two-factor approach can also reduce exploits.
"Mobile devices face an array of threats that take advantage of numerous vulnerabilities commonly found in such devices. These vulnerabilities can be the result of inadequate technical controls, but they can also result from the poor security practices of consumers," the GAO stated.
Mobile is a great convenience, however, it's a good idea to also consider the risks and then be proactive in safeguarding both the device and the data it contains.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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