Hackers Target Small Biz Smartphones

 

Smartphones have granted people unprecedented access to information, but many users don’t realize they’re giving away just as much access to themselves simply by using the devices. As we’ve previously discussed, retailers and search engines compile loads of data gathered from users’ browsing habits. And if these legitimate operations can easily obtain this info, then it stands to reason that people with more nefarious intentions can find a way into your data as well.

However, many hackers these days are looking for more than just personal bank accounts and social security numbers. Office workers across the country are increasingly using their personal smartphones for work tasks or even to hold important data. As a result, hackers can bring down entire companies if they break into the right phone. And the problem isn’t limited strictly to major corporations. In fact, as operating incomes have become tighter, many small businesses encourage employees to use their own gadgets at work. These so-called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies can save companies as much as $3,150 per employee, but it also leaves them much more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Since staffers own the devices outright, many feel free to use their phones however they choose. This can include “jailbreaking” a device, meaning that the user removes some operating limitations in order to increase the gadget’s functions. Jailbroken phones are more susceptible to hacking since they increase the chances that a person will download a malicious app. Other dangers include simple human error. After all, a businessperson who drops their phone on the train could end up losing a lot more than just their contacts and Candy Crush high score. Despite these risks, many small businesses do not have a mobile security plan in place. A survey by the digital-security company McAfee revealed that 66 percent of small businesses are confident that their data and devices are secure. Nevertheless, 31 percent of targeted cyber attacks in 2012 were perpetrated against businesses with fewer than 250 employees, representing a 13 percent increase. Small business owners must ensure that staffers don’t leave their companies more vulnerable to hackers than they already are.

 

Questions:

  1. Is it advisable for companies to have employees use their own phones at work?
  1. Why would two-thirds of small businesses not have a mobile security in place?

 

Source: Jason Ankeny, “Our Collective Mobile Security Blind Spot,” Entrepreneur, March 14, 2014. Photo by Mesut Yilmaz.

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