In today’s fast-growing digital world, securing and protecting our information and data has become the priority across all segments of life and different industry segments. The recent attacks identified as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) came like a thunderbolt on the stability and security of the Internet of things. Such security breaches can be crippling and devastating for an era that is heavily dependent on the sharing and disseminating of information over the internet.

The use of mobile devices is growing at a rapid phase around the world and most organizations today have mobile apps meant to access mission-critical and sensitive data. Hence it becomes crucially important now than any other time to develop a broader view of the galaxy of mobile security eco-system and get to know everything that pertains to mobile security. If we need to protect our mobile solutions, we must understand the importance of the saying, “Information is the most powerful weapon” and take the right steps leading to foolproof privacy and security of the mobile apps and their devices.

What is the challenge?

Due to the absence of unified endpoint management (UEM), threats to mobile enterprises are fast becoming frequent and more complex. Cybercriminals are today developing sophisticated malware. The incidents of a security breach are too many today that make it difficult for the efforts to focus and take viable actions. According to Ponemon Institute, over 84 percent users depend on the same smartphone for work as well as for personal use. While this trend can significantly impact the user experience, it can also challenge the capabilities of the IT departments to secure access to the data on enterprise systems. Given this environment, preserving user privacy and data security has become a colossal requirement in front of us.

What is to be secured?

Mobile devices help store a lot many kinds of data both personal and enterprise in nature — sensitive information like phone numbers, medical information, credit card information, authentication details like usernames and passwords, home addresses and others besides the vast amount of enterprise data too. Data protection is also essential from protecting identity since identity theft can be used for unauthorized access to information that can be eventually stolen or compromised with.

Mobile devices feature integrated hardware components for the sake of supporting a wide range of I/O mechanisms. Some of the communication mechanisms among them are wireless while some include physical connectors like SIM cards, SD cards, power, and synchronization cables. Both the wireless and wired communication mechanisms employed by the mobile devices make them vulnerable to different kinds of threats which must be secured for the overall security of the devices and apps installed on them.

An overview of the mobile security ecosystem

Threats faced by mobile apps can be grouped into two categories:

  • Software vulnerabilities that can invade the data captured within the mobile app that runs on the mobile operating system.
  • Malicious apps, invasive privacy apps, and malware-based threats that can damage the device and mobile service.

There are several kinds of authentication mechanisms used by mobile apps. Also, there are a variety of authentication protocols for accessing devices, remote networks, remote services, and enterprise systems. If the mobile apps are vulnerable to invasion, compromise, and exploitation, it would mean a very high risk of compromising with the enterprise data and sensitive personal data. Hence we can say mobile app security is all about protecting the data in the mobile app itself.

How to secure mobile applications

While creating mobile apps, their architecture and design are the most crucial first step to be attended for security measures.

Aspects to consider while securing mobile apps

  • Data transfer encryption
  • Data at rest encryption
  • A device storage and cloud storage
  • Validation of input data
  • Salting and hashing passwords
  • Use of tokens and keys
  • Authenticating and integrating corporate identity management
  • Enterprise mobility management security policies
  • VPN connectivity needs
  • Backend integration
  • On-premise and on cloud storage
  • File permissions
  • Auditing info and log files
  • Regulatory compliances

Vulnerable components in the mobile eco-system

  • Mobile operating systems
  • Device drivers
  • SD cards
  • SIM card
  • Interoperability and mobile carrier infrastructure

Enterprise Mobility Management

EMM systems are the most popular methods of managing employee mobile devices in an enterprise atmosphere. They feature a mixture of mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM)functionalities. The main focus of MDM is to monitor and secure mobile devices.

On the other hand, MAM focuses on app distribution and controlling app access by the users. EMM systems are configured in such a way they will only allow the running of whitelisted apps. They also feature possibilities like lock screen, remote data wipe, and disabling some device peripherals like the camera. Different vendors go by different sets of policies. So it is crucial to compare between their products and review what is different between them. They are implemented through SDKs that the developers use while building apps. Alternatively, they can also be implemented via wrapper mechanisms that are built on mobile app binaries.

Four viable approaches to securing mobile apps

Some Leading Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) Technology Solutions

AI to gather insights relevant to the context and recommend the right kind of responses

Mobile threat management to detect and destroy the malware on the infected endpoints

Portfolio to provide secure access to enterprise apps and stop data leakage

Mobile application security to safeguard the proprietary data in enterprise apps

Identity management to facilitate secure single sign (SSO) access to web and cloud apps

Best Practices in enterprise mobile security

Any instance of the security breach or successful attack on enterprise mobile apps can mean financial loss, regulatory or legal infractions and the defeat of reputation. Hence efforts must be taken to build many layers of protection around critical data. This will ensure that if one layer is breached, the hackers can still not gain access to the valuable data. Here are some best practices in the lines of promoting enterprise mobile security.

  • Installing anti-malware software on mobile devices
  • Securing mobile communications end-to-end
  • Implementing strong controls over authentication and passwords
  • Close monitoring of third-party software
  • Developing independent and completely secured mobile gateways
  • Implementing fool-proof locking mechanisms to secure mobile devices
  • Security audits and penetration tests for mobiles on a regular basis

Concluding Remarks

Mobile security has become a huge topic today with its own exclusive issues and challenges. They are all a part of the infrastructure that must be created to protect sensitive information, mission-critical data, assets, business, reputation, finances and the larger interests of people and organizations. This calls for taking the right actions to prevent losses and mitigate risks. Once a major step is taken in this line successfully, enterprises and individuals can reap the incredible benefits of mobile phones in today’s digital era. Failing to exercise the prudent measures, compliance protocols and best practices will endanger the enterprise and personal mobile use environment.