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How to protect your company from data leaks through company mobiles

Just a couple of days ago, McAfee released its latest mobile threat report for 2019. According to the findings, from one of the global leading cybersecurity firms, we will see an increased number of so-called fake apps for Android smartphones and tablets this year.

According to McAfee, there was a 650 % increase in fake-apps between June and December 2018. Fake-apps – like the free-of-charge-version of the very successful game, Fortnite – aim to gain access to consumer phones to steal the user’s identity.

In that time period, there was a 200% increase in so-called “Financial Trojans” on smartphones. These apps contain Trojans that steal a victim’s financial institutions credentials allowing the hacker access to the user’s account. Once inside the bank account, the hacker tries to transfer as much money as possible to their own.

Even though stealing an individual’s finances may sound awful, it’s the access a hacker can gain passwords that give them access to company networks which can be much worse!

Hackers need open backdoors to get inside a system or network, and finding security holes by hacking an employee smartphone is one of the best ways to gain access into a company. Once hackers are in a network, the firm is almost completely unprotected. Now it is only a matter of minutes for a hacker to steal sensitive data (e.g. of new projects or products to sell it to the highest bidder), or place a malicious software tool like ransomware that will encrypt precious data.

Regardless of the specific criminal intention of the hacker, once a system is open, the hacker can do all sorts of activity. Therefore, it is essential that this never happens in your company. Here are some tips on how to prevent employees’ smartphones from getting hacked:

  1. Employees should be made aware that their mobile device is a perfect entry inside the company network. Data security training for the use of both private as well as company mobile devices should be made mandatory for the employees.
  1. The company should set rules for the use of private mobile devices in the company.
  1. There should be a strict division between private use and business use. Apps that are used in business environments should never be used for private purposes. It is a good idea to centrally manage all apps that are available on a company smartphone or tablet – Mobile Application Management, MAM.
  1. All smartphones and mobiles that are used inside a company should be managed over a centralised administration – (also known as Mobile Device Management). With such a tool, the administrator is able to implement all the necessary patches and security features via one single role out. In short, the administrator will be able to administer all devices from their desk. Smartphones or tablets that are used by guests should only be allowed to use the network inside a special secured guest area that gives access to a limited internet but is monitored in real-time so no malware can spread across the company.
  1. All mobile devices that are used by the company should be registered in an inventory and be kept up to date. There should also be a (short) documentation about every product and its current status –manufacturer, product type, OS, updates, patch levels installed, and telephone number. The handover of any device to an employee must always be supported by a signature.
  1. If a mobile device is used for both private and business purposes, special measures should be taken. There are several possibilities available to divide the usage; one is to provide a special container app. There are many on the market e.g. AirWatch Container from VMware, Sophos Mobile Control 6.0 or Container Station from QNAP NAS. Inside a container app, the software can work as it likes but is not able to connect without notice to external links. It also prevents sensitive data from being copied or transferred to private and insecure apps like WhatsApp. If such a container app is not available, apps and programs that are intended to be used by the employee should only be available by authentication. Additionally, downloads and data transfer should always be done via VPN.

Even if you take our tips into consideration, you should remember that you are never fully protected from cyber attacks. Hackers will constantly look for a new and better way to find a loophole into a company’s network system. If you are hit by an attack, inform your local authorities and if you are in need of data recovery – e.g. in a ransomware case – contact professional data recovery service provider like Ontrack Data Recovery.


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