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How to Protect Data When Mobile is the Biggest Threat to Corporate IT Security

The growth in BYOD policies and prevalence of hybrid work is seeing an increasing number of employees ditch traditional work devices in favor of personal ones. The result has seen cybercriminals shift their focus. They now see mobile devices as the soft underbelly of corporate IT networks and the perfect launchpad for their attacks. 

There are several reasons why hackers see personal mobile devices used in a corporate setting as an easy target. When managing these devices, mobile users frequently depend on the default security settings provided by manufacturers, as opposed to employing enhanced security software that is commonly deployed on their desktop computers.  Additionally, they often fail to regularly update their mobile operating systems, leaving their devices vulnerable to the latest malware and viruses. They also use a multitude of non-work-related apps, potentially exposing their device to being compromised. 

Cybercriminals have become adept at distributing malevolent APKs (Android application package files) through direct downloads and third-party app stores by masquerading unofficial versions of legitimate apps. By capitalizing on the familiarity of well-known app names, these malicious apps aim to infiltrate employee devices with malware. 

Highly regulated sectors, such as healthcare and finance, also face problems when employees send files via apps such as WhatsApp and Slack. These can be responsible for data leaks and contravene strict regulations surrounding the confidentiality and security of data. 

 

Lack of Adequate Security Protection for Mobile Devices

Despite these threats and the widespread implementation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, there is still a glaring lack of adequate mobile security protection in most organizations. And this should make every CSO shudder given the results of research carried out by SlashNext

  • 71% of employees store sensitive work passwords on their personal phone
  • 66% of employees sometimes use their personal texting apps for work use
  • 59% of employees sometimes use their personal private messaging apps for work use.

Unsurprisingly, a growing number of CSOs are finding out the hard way that mobile devices represent one of the most vulnerable endpoint in their organization. But why, in an era where mobile device management (MDM) solutions enable administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on phones, tablets and other endpoints, is mobile still seen by hackers as highly exploitable?

The problem is that mobile presents a security threat that is bigger than the sum of its parts — beyond emails, calendars or messaging apps — because mobile devices interact with numerous systems, networks and enterprise data. Their escalating use in the workplace therefore means an ever-escalating array of devices, endpoints and identities. This means they require an entire set of resources to continuously secure, protect and manage their usage that few organizations have the resources or solutions to fully implement. 

 

The Achilles Heel Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The key flaw of MDM solutions revolves around their primary goal — to enable the centralized management of all endpoint devices and users. This approach encompasses various tools like mobile application management (MAM) and identity and access management capabilities. But focusing on managing devices and identity management is not enough. Employees have multiple identities — for email, WhatsApp, Slack, etc — and CSOs can fall into the false belief that by securing these various IDs, they in turn protect devices and data. But the Achilles heel with these solutions is that they, again, focus on securing devices and users — not data.

So, once users are granted access to the corporate IT network, the data they interact with on their mobile is stored on that device. Consequently, the data is no longer confined within the secure corporate network environment and is left exposed and vulnerable on the device it now resides on. Hackers exploit this by targeting individual employees who have access to confidential information on their mobile device, rather than exploiting a technical vulnerability

 

Addressing the Risks Posed by Remote Access 

The ultimate goal of security has to focus on protecting data and therefore needs to stop data from leaving and coming to rest outside of the corporate network. This is precisely where Symmetrium, a cutting-edge zero-trust data mobile access solution, steps in, facilitating productive collaboration while significantly reducing the chances of data breaches. This innovative solution effectively transforms any mobile device, be it managed or unmanaged, into a virtual extension of the organization’s network, complete with compliance, security, and IT protocols.

To maintain a secure and private zero-trust environment for data, Symmetrium offers a groundbreaking solution through its virtual mobile devices (VMDs). These virtual devices, residing within the organization’s network, serve as extensions of the company’s comprehensive security and compliance policies when accessed remotely by employees via their mobile phones or laptops. Leveraging end-to-end encrypted streaming, these VMDs ensure a seamless, completely native mobile experience with effortless deployment and management. Sensitive data is accessed virtually and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

With Symmetrium at their disposal, organizations gain unparalleled control over the data accessed by their employees through mobile devices, ensuring robust protection against potential risks. The convenience of a centralized management console allows for efficient management of diverse devices, regardless of their brand or operating system, all while minimizing resource allocation.

 

Seamlessly Meeting Security and GRC Protocols

The seamless integration of Symmetrium effortlessly aligns with existing security and GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) protocols, united under a single application. As a result, organizations can rest assured, knowing that their data remains safeguarded and secure, regardless of the device utilized for access, because Symmetrium: 

  1. Enforces strict network policies for seamless protection of sensitive data and compliance with regulations.
  2. Ensures Compatibility with various hardware and software configurations on multiple devices.
  3. Mitigates the risk of data breaches, malware attacks, and unauthorized access.
  4. Requires minimal resource allocation, optimizing efficiency.
  5. Delivers centralized management through a user-friendly console.
  6. Enables employees to utilize personal devices while maintaining their experience and privacy.
  7. Ensures a highly cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for device purchasing, maintenance, or upgrades.

Symmetrium’s streamlined approach empowers organizations to maintain unwavering data security, bolstering data governance, and fortifying against potential vulnerabilities with confidence.

Discover how easy it is to tame the threat of mobile security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

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