5 Security Threats Faced by the Mobile Workforce

mobile workforce

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, only 17 percent of employees worked from home on a regular basis. Now, 44 percent of employees work from home 5 or more days a week.

This means that more and more mobile devices are being used for business purposes. As most mobile devices don’t have the same level of security as desktop computers or laptops used on a company network, this introduces more opportunities for these devices to be compromised. 

Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2021, business data traffic bypassing company security and flowing directly to the cloud from mobile devices will increase from 10 percent to 27 percent.

For corporate data passing through or residing on mobile devices to remain secure, it is imperative that chief information security officers and other IT personnel to ensure that they are aware of the possible security threats faced by a remote workforce

Cybersecurity Risks for Remote Workers:

1. Malware and Phishing Attacks

Studies indicate that mobile malware is growing at 6 times the rate as desktop malware. Malware, short for malicious softwarerefers to software designed with malicious intent. Mobile malware targets mobile devices to gain unauthorized access to confidential data and cause the device to malfunction.

Phishing is a technique used by hackers to collect an employee’s sensitive data login information. The goal of a phishing attack is to download malware to a user’s device in order to steal sensitive data like personal or credit card information and login credentials. It often originates from a seemingly trusted source like an Amazon or PayPal security alert to coerce the user to click a link contained in the email, which installs malware.

As online meetings have become the norm, phishing attacks are also taking the form of fake online meeting links or other pandemic-related communication. Training your remote employees to recognize phishing attacks should be a part of your remote workforce data security plan.

2. Malicious Code

Malicious code can be defined as “harmful computer code or web script designed to create system vulnerabilities leading to back doors, security breaches, information, and data theft, and other potential damages to file and computing systems”. It can refer to a wide category of computer security terms including attack scripts, viruses, worms, and backdoors.

Various forms include Java Applets, ActiveX controls, plugins, pushed content, and scripting languages.

Malicious code is often camouflaged as legitimate software, including mobile apps. A company’s network environment can become compromised by a remote employee who unsuspectingly downloads malicious code via a mobile app. The code can then propagate throughout the network system creating vulnerabilities that expose sensitive data, reformatting hard drives, or giving remote access to unauthorized users.

To minimize the risk of malicious code entering your network system, employees should be encouraged to download apps only from legitimate and trusted sources and all mobile devices should be equipped with cybersecurity software that alerts users to suspicious apps.

3. Device Attacks

Device attacks that traditionally targeted PC devices have now been re-engineered to target mobile devices as well. These include buffer overflow exploitations and browser-based attacks which aim to gain control of the device and access its data or cause a denial of service attack.

Buffer overflow exploitations overwrite the memory of an application in a way that can target vulnerabilities in the application to change the way the application works. Hackers can use this method to send instructions to the device and gain access to your company’s network system. Browser-based attacks take advantage of known security flaws in a mobile browser to gain access to the device to install malware or ransomware and steal personal data.

Hackers also make use of SMS (short message services) to deploy device attacks via SMishing. SMishing, one of the newer security threats, uses text messaging to coerce a user into revealing personal information. It may be in the form of a message that asks you to call an unknown number, a link to a website to enter personal information, or prompts the user to download software to their mobile device.

4. Communication Interception

Communication interception involves the tracking, interception, and recording of mobile communications. Mobile devices are especially susceptible to communication interception in the form of Wi-fi hacking and man-in-the-middle attacks. Using these methods, cybercriminals can exploit weaknesses found in Wi-Fi and cellular protocols to intercept and decrypt data transmissions sent from an employee’s mobile device. 

Remote workers are prime candidates for these kinds of attacks. Many remote employees work from places other than home, like a nearby coffee shop or library. They might not be aware that the public Wi-Fi in these places could introduce a security threat to the entire company network.

To reduce the risk of communication interception, remote employees should only access the company’s network through secure and encrypted connections using a virtual private network (VPN).

5. Network Spoofing

Network spoofing occurs when a cybercriminal impersonates the IP address of a trusted computer to gain access to resources and information on a restricted network. Hackers can use network spoofing to enter your company’s secured networks to obtain confidential files and information.

One common form of network spoofing is man-in-the-middle (MitB) attacks. During a MitB attack, a hacker tries to hijack traffic between two network devices. This is often done by creating fake access points on public or unsecured networks in coffee shops and libraries, to look like legitimate free Wi-Fi networks. The hacker is then able to intercept and manipulate communication being sent via the network.

If your remote employees are accessing insecure Wi-Fi networks, they run the risk of exposing sensitive data transmitted from their mobile devices.

Cyber Sainik Security Solutions for Remote Workforce

Failing to implement adequate security measures for your remote workforce could result in harmful data security breaches that could cripple your business and cost you thousands of dollars.

At Cyber Sainik, our Security as a Service solution can help you protect your data, networks, and end-point devices against cybersecurity threats.

Learn how we can help you with your remote workforce data security needs. Contact us today.

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