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How to Safeguard Your Data Against The Top 3 Most Challenging Mobile Security Threats

With the introduction of hybrid work environments, mobile devices have become ubiquitous in our professional spheres. As their prevalence continues to grow, so too do the associated security risks. Common threats such as unsecured Wi-Fi networks, phishing and ransomware attacks, and data breaches continually evolve, posing significant challenges to individual and organizational security. To counteract these risks, CISOs and mobile security professionals are under pressure to continually update their understanding of emerging threats and implement best practices to protect data and devices.

Let’s first address the key security risks corporations face in this era of hybrid work and then address the best solution to eliminate these threats.

 

Risk #1: The Constant Threat of Accessing Unsecured Networks or Wi-fi

Corporate networks are frequently being accessed by remote workers logging in from external networks or Wi-Fi (such as in cafes, airports or hotels). These unsecured access methods pose a considerable threat, primarily due to the increased risk of data interception and theft. When devices connect to these networks, it becomes easier for attackers to snoop on data being transmitted, potentially capturing sensitive corporate information, credentials, emails, and other personal data.

Another common threat is man-in-the-middle attacks, where attackers intercept the communication between a mobile device and another system, such as a server. Unsecured networks also facilitate malware distribution. Malware can be transferred to devices through compromised files or by navigating to malicious websites accessed via unsecured Wi-Fi. Additionally, session hijacking is a significant risk on these networks; attackers can capture cookies and other session tokens to impersonate the user, gaining unauthorized access to private accounts and corporate systems.

 

Risk #2: The Growing Menace of AI

AI is becoming a significant threat to corporate mobile security, primarily due to its ability to make cyber attacks more sophisticated, targeted and automated. By automating tasks traditionally done by humans, such as crafting phishing emails or generating malicious content, Gen AI enables cyber attackers to execute large-scale attacks far more efficiently.

Gen AI also enhances social engineering attacks by creating personalized, convincing phishing campaigns based on data extracted from social networks and other public sources. Beyond typical cyber threats, AI’s ability to produce deepfakes — convincingly real audio and video clips — poses a new kind of risk. These can be used to manipulate employees or tarnish an organization’s reputation through sophisticated misinformation campaigns.

Additionally, AI can drive the development of adaptive malware, which scrutinizes the security environment of a mobile device and alters its code on the fly to avoid detection by traditional security measures like antivirus software.

 

Risk #3: The Endless Onslaught of Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks pose an ongoing, significant threat to organizations, leveraging various tactics to compromise user data and demand payment for its release. Here are some of the most common:

Malicious Apps — One of the most common vectors for ransomware attacks on mobile devices is through malicious apps. These apps often appear legitimate and may even mimic popular applications but contain malicious code. Once installed, they can lock the device or encrypt data, demanding a ransom to restore access.

Exploit Kits — These are tools used by cybercriminals to exploit known vulnerabilities in mobile operating systems and apps. When a user navigates to a compromised website, the exploit kit can automatically download and install ransomware if the device has an unpatched vulnerability.

SMS Trojans — These are malicious pieces of software that are disguised as legitimate apps but send text messages to premium-rate numbers from the infected device. While the primary goal is often to generate revenue by sending SMS messages, some variants may also lock the device or encrypt files.

 

Why Traditional Security Solutions No Longer Provide Adequate Protection

As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile with widespread remote work and the adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, traditional perimeter defenses, designed for securing assets within a specific location, are bypassed more frequently.

Additionally, the sophistication of cyber threats and the diversity of mobile devices and operating systems have outpaced the capabilities of these traditional defenses, which lack the necessary visibility and control over mobile device activity.

In response, organizations are shifting towards using a zero trust model, which does not automatically trust any entity inside or outside the network and requires verification for every access request, regardless of origin. This approach, supported by endpoint management, data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and continuous monitoring, provides a more effective defense mechanism in today’s highly mobile and cloud-centric work environment.

 

The Optimal Solution: Embracing a True Zero-Trust Model with Symmetrium

Symmetrium offers a unique solution that enables organizations to adopt a robust zero-trust security framework without the need to discard existing technology. By creating Virtual Mobile Devices (VMDs) within the secure perimeter of an organization’s network, Symmetrium ensures compliance with all existing enterprise network security protocols. These VMDs utilize P2P encrypted streaming, allowing authorized remote and third-party users to access and view data securely from their own devices. Importantly, this data remains view-only and never leaves the protected confines of the organizational network, thus it is never transferred to or stored on external devices, maintaining its security integrity at all times. By using Symmetrium, no data at rest on external devices means no data at risk.

Given the reality that data, resources, and employees often exist outside the traditional enterprise perimeter, ensuring that there is “no data at rest” on external devices is paramount. Symmetrium’s VMD technology addresses this need effectively, offering a dependable solution to the challenges of modern security.

 

Isn’t it time to rethink your zero-trust strategy? Why not book a demo with Symmetrium today to explore how they can secure your data and help you maintain control in a transformed digital landscape.

How To Optimize Microsoft intune Using Symmetrium to Boost Security and Lower Costs

In today’s dynamic mobile cybersecurity landscape, where new threats are constantly and rapidly evolving, CISOs and security teams need to continuously focus on how best to fortify their defenses.

Organizations with existing Microsoft 365 and Azure subscriptions, often turn to Microsoft Intune to secure and manage all company-issued devices, as well as personal devices accessing work data through BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs. 

Intune enables Microsoft users to manage devices (phones, laptops, etc.) alongside other Microsoft services. Since Intune works within the Microsoft ecosystem, it can align well with an organization’s existing technology stack.

 

Managing The Cost and Complexity of Intune

While Intune offers several benefits such as device management, application management, and security policy enforcement, there are also some downsides to consider.

Cost: While Intune is part of Microsoft 365, it can be relatively expensive. The cost becomes more pronounced when scaling up the levels of protection.

Security: It is important to note that Intune provides the management layer, but implementing a defense layer requires an additional Mobile Threat Detection (MTD) solution. Microsoft’s MS Defender can fulfill this role but requires an additional payment on top of the cost of Intune.

Complexity in Setup and Management: The initial setup can be complex, while configuring conditional access, compliance settings, and application management requires a deep understanding of the platform. Intune also requires a separate setup for Android and iOS.

Limited Support for Non-Windows Devices: Although Intune supports iOS, Android, and macOS devices, its features are most comprehensive for Windows devices.

Dependency on Internet Connectivity: Being a cloud-based service, Intune requires consistent internet connectivity for management and policy enforcement.

While Microsoft Intune is a powerful tool for managing devices and protecting corporate data, it’s important for organizations to consider these potential downsides. Careful planning, clear policies, and ongoing management are key to mitigating these issues and making the most out of Intune.

 

Using Symmetrium with Intune Provides the Optimal, Cost-Effective and Efficient Mobile Security Solution

If you are considering using or currently have a subscription to Intune, to gain the full suite of security benefits you will need to pay extra money to get the full suite of protection. There’s another additional cost if you want to add Microsoft Defence. You’ll also pay extra to manage and secure WiFi connectivity. With Symmetrium you get the full capability from the get-go in one solution. You will never have to decide to add extra features and absorb the resulting additional costs.

Implementing mobile security can be daunting, resource intensive and costly. Symmetrium’s streamlined approach allows for the cost effective and efficient management of multiple devices, regardless of their brand or operating systems, from within Intune.

 

How Symmetium Optimizes Microsoft Intune

Enterprises using Intune don’t want the headache of managing additional tools and solutions. But by implementing Symmetrium they can quickly optimize the usage of Intune by treating Symmetrium just like any device in their Intune system. This means they can manage Symmetrium from within Intune to:

1) Maximize Security

Using Symmetrium in addition to Intune, instantly provides extra layers of security:

a. Web Protection — Symmetrium resides on a server within the organization network, which means organizations can uphold existing enterprise security protocols while effectively safeguarding data and resources. This enables security teams to manage the network from the server side, with no need for special tools to manage on the client/device side.

b. Malware Protection — With no data residing on mobile devices, there is no need to manage and protect the physical device.

c. Jailbreak Detection — Symmetrium can detect, analyze and block a jailbroken device before it makes a connection.

d. Network Protection — Symmetrium’s Virtual Mobile Devices (VMDs), which reside in the protection of the corporate IT infrastructure, uses the server network. The connection between the Symmetrium app and server is P2P encrypted.

e. Conditional Access — Symmetrium can easily be configured to provide conditional access. Any devices that try to connect that do not have access privileges will be instantly detected and blocked before they can make a connection. Symmetrium also provides extra conditional access, such as geolocation, device OS, and state.

2) Lower Costs

When using Symmetrium, organizations do not need a mobile threat defense (MTD) vendor, such as Microsoft Defender. This has several benefits.

– They don’t have to pay extra for security.

– MTD apps monitor threats by checking OS versions, system parameters, firmware, and device configurations. Symmetrium, however, stores all data in the cloud not on individual devices. This means it is not affected by threats at the device level.

– When an MTD detects an infected device that is integrated with Intune, the conditional access blocks email and managed apps, which affects the workflow. This scenario does not impact the usage of Symmetrium, because, unlike standard MDM and MTD solutions, the device itself holds no organizational data. So even if the device is infected with malware, the user can continue to work, because the data it accesses via Symmetrium will not be put at risk. In addition, Symmetrium validates if the hardware is jailbroken, rooted, using a custom ROM and can set the requirement for the minimum OS level.

3) Seamless Deployment and Management

Symmetrium allows Intune users to lower costs and improve security, all while using their existing settings and setup. This is because Symmetrium can be managed directly within Microsoft Intune. This means your IT team does not have to worry about using and configuring another management tool. They can use the same set of policies currently being used in Intune and simply treat Symmetrium as if they are managing a new device. It saves time and headaches as you already have a policy set up within Intune, so you can simply use it again.

They can use the same set of policies currently being used in Intune and simply treat Symmetrium as if they are managing a new device. It saves time and headaches as you already have a policy set up within Intune, so you can simply use it again.

Employee privacy is also strengthened using Symmetrium. If we compare standard devices managed by Intune, the user needs to install the agent, grant permission, install MTD, etc, directly on their device. With Symmetrium, the user only downloads the Symmetrium app to access the managed device.

Another important difference from Intune is that Symmetrium doesn’t need the client to be connected to update policy, apps, block access, etc. Whereas if you are using Intune you need an internet connection on the end-user device to get the update.

 

The Bottom Line: The Perfect Blend for Optimal Security, Cost Effectiveness and Seamless Management within InTune

To address the vulnerability of diverse endpoints and the inherent risk of exposing sensitive data outside the secure corporate network, Symmetrium’s unique approach transforms all mobile devices into secure virtual extensions of an organization’s network. And when blended with Microsoft Intune, it offers the optimal secure environment for the most cost-effective and resource-efficient solution for mobile security. So, when looking to balance the optimum solution in mobile security using Intune with the minimum TCO, Symmetrium provides the perfect match.

Discover how easy it is to lower the costs of your Intune mobile data protection while adding ease-of use to optimize your network security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

The Rise of AI-Powered Cyberattacks on Mobile Devices: A Growing Threat to Organizations

In today’s super connected hybrid workplaces, mobile devices have become indispensable tools. They enable employees to work remotely, access data, and communicate efficiently. However, with the increasing adoption of mobile technology comes a new frontier for cybercriminals: the exploitation of vulnerabilities using artificial intelligence (AI).

AI offers hackers a powerful arsenal of tools and techniques to launch sophisticated cyberattacks, including voice cloning. By harnessing the capabilities of AI by using ChatGPT, for example, hackers can conduct research into targets to improve scripts and help build social engineering techniques.

 

Exploiting The AI Advantage in Cyberattacks

AI-powered tools can automate the process of reconnaissance, identifying potential targets and gathering information about mobile devices and network infrastructure. This automation enables hackers to scale their attacks and target a large number of devices simultaneously, increasing their chances of success.

Traditional malware detection mechanisms rely on signature-based approaches to identify known threats. However, AI-powered malware can dynamically adapt and evolve to evade detection by learning from its environment and adjusting its behavior in real-time. This makes it challenging for organizations to detect and mitigate AI-driven malware attacks effectively.

AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data to personalize phishing attacks, making them more convincing and difficult to detect. By mimicking the writing style, voice and behavior of trusted contacts or organizations, AI-powered phishing attacks can trick employees into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links, compromising the security of their mobile devices and the entire organization.

 

Why Traditional Security Solutions Are Vulnerable

The integration of AI techniques into cyberattacks poses significant challenges for organizations seeking to protect their mobile devices and data. Traditional boundary-based security methods are struggling to cope with the use of AI by hackers for several reasons:

1) Adaptability and Dynamism: AI-powered attacks are highly adaptable and dynamic, constantly evolving to evade detection and exploit vulnerabilities. Traditional boundary-based security methods rely on static rules and signatures to identify threats, making them ineffective against AI-driven attacks that can quickly change their tactics and behaviors.

2) Complexity and Sophistication: AI-powered attacks are often more complex and sophisticated than traditional cyber threats, making them harder to detect and mitigate using traditional security measures. Hackers can use AI to analyze vast amounts of data, identify vulnerabilities, and develop custom attack techniques tailored to specific targets, making it challenging for boundary-based security methods to keep pace.

3) Stealth and Evasion Techniques: AI-powered attacks can employ stealth and evasion techniques to bypass traditional security defenses. For example, AI-powered malware can dynamically alter its code to avoid detection by antivirus software, or AI-powered phishing attacks can mimic the behavior of legitimate users to evade detection by email security filters.

4) Scale and Automation: AI enables hackers to scale their attacks and automate various stages of the cyber kill chain, from reconnaissance to exploitation to exfiltration. Traditional boundary-based security methods may struggle to cope with the sheer scale and automation of AI-driven attacks, leading to gaps in security coverage and increased risk of successful breaches.

5) Limited Visibility and Context: Traditional boundary-based security methods typically provide limited visibility and context into network traffic and user behavior, making it difficult to detect subtle signs of AI-driven cyberattacks. Hackers can exploit these blind spots to launch stealthy attacks that go unnoticed by traditional security defenses until it’s too late.

 

Symmetrium: A Paradigm Shift in Mobile Security

The rise of AI-powered cyberattacks represents a watershed moment in cybersecurity, necessitating a fundamental rethink of traditional security approaches. To effectively defend against the evolving tactics of cybercriminals, organizations must adapt their security strategies.

Traditional security strategies often prioritize protecting devices and individuals, overlooking the critical aspect of safeguarding data. Symmetrium shifts the focus to data security while minimizing the need for extensive infrastructure changes. It achieves this by offering a device-agnostic, low-resource solution that seamlessly integrates with existing information and security technology infrastructures. Rather than overhauling systems, Symmetrium enhances data protection by introducing virtual mobile devices (VMDs) within the organization’s network perimeter.

These VMDs operate in tandem with established enterprise security protocols, allowing authorized remote and third-party users to securely access data using their own devices. Leveraging P2P encrypted streaming, Symmetrium’s VMDs enable users to view data without physically transferring it to external devices, ensuring that sensitive information remains within the secure organizational network.

By keeping data within the protected perimeter, Symmetrium significantly reduces the risk of data compromise or unauthorized access, providing organizations with peace of mind in an increasingly complex security landscape.

Schedule a demo today to experience the future of remote access security firsthand.

What Google Can Teach Organizations About Mobile Security and Malware’s Use as a Weapon of War

Targeting mobile phones with malicious software is now one of the tools of choice when it comes to waging war, according to a report released by Google. The research focuses on the conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, where the phones and tablets of civilians and military personnel are being targeted to disrupt communications, steal sensitive information, spread misinformation and potentially put lives at risk. This sinister use of malware is adding a new dimension to modern warfare, underlining the importance of the digital battlefield.

Google has been actively monitoring spikes in cyber threats and mobile malware to safeguard their users during these conflicts. This has revealed fresh insights into phishing campaigns, hack-and-leak operations, information warfare, disruptive attacks and other cyber activities to its Threat Analysis Group (TAG), Mandiant, and Trust & Safety teams.

A significant number of cyber attacks involve spyware campaigns that rely on malicious mobile apps, which are playing a substantial role in gathering intelligence by targeting data at rest on users’ devices, including messages, contacts, real-time location, and other sensitive data.

 

Anatomy of a Mobile Spyware Campaign

In its report, Google details the key elements of the spyware campaigns and their sequence being used in conflict zones and beyond:

1) Delivery to user: This is the first stage of the attack and its primary emphasis lies in persuading users to install malicious applications through SMS phishing or social engineering techniques employed on social media and messaging applications.

2) Installation: The spyware might disguise itself as a legitimate application, tricking the user into granting access to sensitive information, including SMS and location data.

3) Gather and steal information: Following installation, the spyware has the capability to collect various information about the device, including but not limited to location, contacts, SMS, and audio recordings.

4) Exfiltration of the data: The malicious application might store any data that comes to rest on that device or pilfered data in an encrypted file, transmit it to command and control infrastructure controlled by the attacker, and subsequently erase the file from the device.

Malicious apps can be hard to detect by users because they often cloak themselves in legitimacy, mimicking commonly used utilities like VPNs and messaging apps like Telegram. However, beneath the surface lurk standard backdoor features, designed to turn the user’s device into a surveillance tool.

Unlike Apple’s App Store, which is famously a ‘walled garden’ from which it controls all app distribution, Android users can download apps from Google Store and alternative third-party channels. This allows groups involved in conflicts to distribute Android spyware through apps not verified by Google, employing SMS phishing and social engineering tactics on social media and chat platforms to trick users into installing them.

 

Targeting the Weakest Link

Humans are often considered the weak link in mobile malware attacks due to their susceptibility to manipulation. Mobile malware attackers frequently exploit human vulnerabilities through tactics such as phishing, where users are tricked into clicking on malicious links or downloading harmful applications. Social engineering techniques, including deceptive messages and fraudulent websites, capitalize on human trust and curiosity.

Moreover, users may inadvertently grant unnecessary permissions to seemingly benign apps, allowing malicious software to access sensitive information. Lack of awareness, complacency, and a tendency to overlook security warnings contribute to the effectiveness of mobile malware attacks. Human behavior plays a pivotal role in the success of these attacks, making it crucial for individuals to stay informed, exercise caution, and adopt security best practices to mitigate the risks associated with mobile malware.

 

Lessons for Organizations

Mobile malware attacks during conflicts offer several harsh lessons for organizations:

Preying on urgency: These attacks exploit heightened emotions and the need for information during crises. Malicious actors disguise malware as legitimate apps, like fake air raid sirens or news sources, to trick users into downloading them. Organizations should remind staff to be cautious of unexpected app downloads, especially during volatile times.

Targeting vulnerabilities: Conflict zones often have limited access to reliable internet and software updates. This creates a breeding ground for malware targeting outdated operating systems with known vulnerabilities. Organizations should prioritize keeping software updated on all devices and enforce strong password policies.

Importance of a ‘walled garden’ approach: Organizations should implement a ‘walled garden’ approach to ensure a secure environment that controls employees’ access to apps. Such a policy enhances security by only allowing the downloading of approved apps from verified sources.

Evolving tactics: Cybercriminals are constantly adapting their methods. For instance, malware might steal user data for espionage or disrupt critical infrastructure. Organizations should have up-to-date security solutions and conduct regular training for employees on cybersecurity best practices.

Importance of backups: Malware attacks can render devices unusable or erase critical data. Organizations should have robust backup and recovery plans in place to minimize disruption and data loss.

Global threats: These attacks highlight the borderless nature of cyberwarfare. An attack targeting one region can have ripple effects worldwide. Organizations should be prepared for potential spillover and have incident response plans in place.

Data at Rest is Data that is Vulnerable: Once attackers have infiltrated a phone they have complete access to the data that comes to rest on that device. Thus the data is no longer in the secure confines of the corporate network environment and is exposed and vulnerable on the device it is now residing on. Symmetrium negates this vulnerability by ensuring no data comes to rest on devices outside of the security of the corporate network.

 

Mobile Security — A New Battlefield Challenge

The digital realm is now an undeniable battleground, with the tentacles of malware created during conflicts stretching far beyond war zones to potentially impact organizations. This should be of major concern as most businesses have a fundamental flaw in their mobile security strategy and are vulnerable because they place an emphasis on users and devices rather than on data.

Symmetrium uses a walled-garden approach by transforming any mobile device, whether managed or unmanaged, into a virtual extension of the organization’s network, incorporating all compliance, security, and IT protocols. Once users enter this secure mobile workspace they only have access to approved apps, and any data accessed never comes to rest on their device. Symmetrium also protects against SMS phishing (Smishing), by scanning every message and integrating with existing email security tools before delivery to end users.

Businesses operating in the health services, finance, telecom and utilities sectors should be most aware of the dangers of mobile malware and potential flaws in their mobile security due to the valuable data they hold and their strategic importance.

For cybercriminals, a successful attack on any of these sectors can lead to financial gain through identity theft, extortion, or the disruption of critical services. The organizations attacked will also face large fines for regulatory violations due to any lapse in the security of the sensitive data they hold. This is why, as we navigate periods of global uncertainty, the lessons learned here by governments and corporations operating in highly regulated environments hold immense value.

Read more about the use of malware in conflicts in Google’s latest report.

The Complete Zero-Trust Mobile Security Manual for CISOs

The surge of remote and hybrid work has skyrocketed mobile device usage in businesses. While offering flexibility, they create a vast attack surface for cyber threats. Blending personal and work devices further exposes sensitive data to risks like unsecured networks, malware, and lost/stolen devices. Enforcing consistent security across various locations and devices adds another layer of complexity.

 

Zero Trust: The New Security Paradigm

Traditional perimeter-based security, with its “trust but verify” approach, is struggling in today’s interconnected world. Zero trust represents a fundamental shift in enterprise security where no user, device, or network component is inherently trusted. It assumes a breach is imminent or ongoing, emphasizing continuous verification and strict access controls, both inside and outside the network.

 

Implementing Zero-Trust Mobile Security

Zero trust has to be proactive, especially with the rise of remote workers and third-party contractors. Here are key best practices:

1. Continuous Authentication & Authorization: Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and adaptive access controls to verify user identity, device health, and context before granting access.

2. Network Segmentation & Micro-Perimeters: Divide the network into isolated segments for different users/devices, limiting lateral movement and minimizing breach impact.

3. Data-Centric Security: Encrypt data at rest and in transit. Use data loss prevention (DLP) to control sensitive data movement.

4. Behavioral Analytics & Monitoring: Detect anomalies and suspicious activities on devices. Track device behavior, network traffic, and user interactions for real-time threat detection.

5. Endpoint Protection & Mobile Device Management (MDM): Implement robust endpoint protection and leverage MDM for granular device control, remote wipe capabilities, and policy enforcement.

6. Employee Training & Awareness: Educate employees on security best practices, recognizing phishing attempts, and reporting suspicious activities. Foster a culture of security awareness.

7. Regular Audits & Assessments: Identify vulnerabilities, evaluate security controls, and ensure compliance with industry standards.

8. Integration & Automation: Integrate various security tools for a unified ecosystem. Automate processes to streamline security, enhance response times, and reduce human error.

9. Adaptability & Evolution: Continuously improve and adapt to evolving threats. Stay informed about emerging technologies, threats, and best practices to refine your mobile security strategy.

 

Challenges & Considerations

Despite its promise of increased protection and resilience against cyber threats, establishing a zero-trust mobile environment presents numerous challenges and considerations that organizations must carefully navigate, such as:

1. Balancing User Experience vs. Security: Finding the right balance between stringent security and a seamless user experience is crucial.

2. Device Diversity & BYOD Policies: Managing diverse devices, operating systems, and security configurations under BYOD policies adds complexity.

3. Integration & Interoperability: Integrating various security solutions and ensuring seamless interoperability requires meticulous planning and execution.

4. Third-Party Integration & Supply Chain Security: Extending zero trust to third-party integrations and supply chain partners presents additional considerations.

5. Regulatory Compliance & Legal Implications: Adhering to regulations while implementing zero trust is crucial.

6. Cultural Shift & User Awareness: Educating employees about the “never trust, always verify” principle is essential. Resistance to change and lack of awareness can impede adoption.

7. Resource & Expertise Constraints: Deploying and managing zero-trust architectures requires specialized skills and resources.

8. Complexity in Monitoring & Analysis: Managing and analyzing vast amounts of data generated by mobile devices can be complex.

9. Scalability & Adaptability: Ensuring scalability and adaptability to accommodate organizational growth and evolving threat landscapes is vital.

 

Addressing the Challenges: A Different Approach

Implementing and managing zero-trust environments can be daunting. While most solutions focus on securing the devices, this exposes data when it moves outside the secure network to reside on the mobile devices accessing it.

To address the vulnerability of diverse endpoints and the inherent risk of exposing sensitive data outside the secure corporate network, Symmetrium created an innovative zero-trust data mobile access solution. This unique approach transforms all mobile devices into secure virtual extensions of an organization’s network, prioritizing compliance, security, and IT protocols.

Symmetrium achieves this by creating virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that remain within the organization’s network perimeter. Through peer-to-peer encrypted streaming, authorized users can securely access and view data without the need to transfer it to external devices. This ‘no data at rest’ methodology significantly reduces the risk of data breaches.

Offering a seamless transition to a secure zero-trust environment, Symmetrium’s solution eliminates the need for a complete technology overhaul. By adopting VMDs, organizations can uphold existing enterprise security protocols while effectively safeguarding data and resources. In a dynamic landscape where data and employees extend beyond traditional perimeters, Symmetrium’s VMDs embody the essence of a zero-trust approach — ensuring robust data security without compromising productivity.

Are you ready to reevaluate your approach to zero-trust mobile security? Experience the power of Symmetrium firsthand by scheduling a demo today.

2023: The Year of Mobile Data Protection

The full-time return to office work has been declared dead. While this most likely has pleased most employees, Chief Security Officers (CSOs) and their teams will be less than ecstatic. They know remote working increases the possibility of security attacks and data breaches. And with the growing use of mobile expanding their attack surface, they are finding out firsthand that current solutions, relying on VPNs and user IDs, for example, are simply not enough. 

The resulting data breaches and attacks can be costly and damaging to organizations, exposing them to reputational damage and significant fines. Over 2023, the healthcare and financial sectors both paid a heavy price for data breaches. In fact, according to research by Proxyrack, the average cost of a data breach incident in healthcare is estimated at $9.23 million — the highest of any industry surveyed. The financial sector comes in second, with an average cost of $5.27 million.

Industries subject to rigorous regulation, like healthcare and finance, are encountering growing challenges with staff’s usage of applications, such as WhatsApp and Slack, for file sharing. This practice can violate stringent regulations pertaining to data confidentiality and security.

To tackle these growing concerns surrounding mobile data security, Symmetrium focused on upgrading its offering during 2023 to directly address and provide a solution to the security flaws CSOs were encountering.

Here are the standout highlights:

An Instant Messaging (IM) and SMS Data Protection Solution

With messaging apps now commonplace in the work environment, Symmetrium released its  unique IM and SMS suite. This innovation empowers organizations to promptly counter these security risks by implementing Virtual Mobile Devices (VDMs) within their network. 

Symmetrium’s VDMs offer users dedicated work mobile numbers, serving as unique identifiers, all without requiring separate physical devices. This shields employees against SMS phishing (Smishing), actively preventing fraudulent activities and malicious links by meticulously scanning every message. It seamlessly integrates with existing email security tools to ensure secure message delivery to end users. 

The solution also addresses compliance concerns by efficiently capturing and storing all work-related messages, establishing an agentless IM and SMS archive. This capability enables organizations to consistently meet the stringent regulatory data requirements imposed on their specific sector.

Creating a True Zero-Trust Solution to Reduce Attack-Surface Area

To limit the amount of touch points to public networks, Symmetrium delivered a cutting-edge zero-trust data mobile access solution. This facilitates productive collaboration while significantly reducing the attack-surface area and the chances of data breaches. 

To maintain a secure and private zero-trust environment for data, while minimizing external touch points to the internet, Symmetrium uses its groundbreaking VMDs. These reside within the organization’s network, so when accessed by employees remotely via their mobile phones or laptops, they serve as extensions of the company’s comprehensive security and compliance policies. 

By 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 a true zero-trust environment, a radically reduced attack surface to ensure that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

Upgrading to Support 5G Networks to Deliver Security and Speed

During 2023, Symmetirum upgraded its streaming technology to support 5G networks. This uses AWS Wavelength Zones to enable organizations deploying Symmetrium’s high-performance Virtual Mobile Devices to benefit from a near real-time experience.

AWS Wavelength integrates the high bandwidth and ultralow latency capabilities of 5G networks with AWS compute and storage services. So, rather than using the public internet, AWS Wavelength Zones enable users to have a telco-grade connection between the cloud and the telco, and between the device and the telco. This shortens the overall time point-to-point, providing a super fast native experience for Symmetrium’s users.

Revolutionizing Zero-Trust Capabilities for Mobile Devices

In the quest for zero trust, Symmetrium’s provision of Virtual Mobile Devices functioning within the organization’s network perimeter, coupled with P2P encrypted streaming, guarantees data security without storing data on external devices. This innovative approach negates the necessity for extensive technological overhauls, enabling seamless integration of Symmetrium into existing infrastructure.

In 2024 Symmetrium will continue to empower organizations to confidently confront zero-trust challenges, facilitating a secure digital transformation. Organizations implementing Symmetrium will shield their data from both established and emerging security threats, including spyware, thereby enabling them to maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic landscape.

Safeguard your workspaces by establishing a genuine zero-trust environment for your mobile devices. Schedule a demo with Symmetrium today.

Driving Down Total Cost of Ownership: The Ultimate Cost-Effective Mobile Data Protection Strategy

In the rapidly evolving landscape of enterprise mobility, ensuring robust security while managing mobile devices and the associated costs has become a crucial challenge. 

Organizations, who build their strategy around company-issued devices, using solutions such as COPE (corporate-owned, personally enabled) have become all too aware that the concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) extends beyond the initial purchase price of a mobile device. It encompasses an array of expenses incurred throughout the device’s lifecycle – from acquisition and deployment to maintenance, support, and eventual decommissioning. 

While Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solves this initial outlay on the actual device, the management of multiple types of hardware and operating systems brings similar challenges and support costs to organizations who embrace this model. 

Navigating the TCO of Mobile Data Protection

To optimally understand TCO these four key areas need to be understood in terms of their impact on the overall annual cost of implementing an effective MDM solution. 

  • Device Cost

COPE: Solutions where the company pays for the device are obviously the most expensive. They face the upfront purchase cost, eventual replacement costs and all associated management and support costs over the lifetime of devices.

BYOD: While employees use their own devices, the organization may still need to provide subsidies, allowances, or reimbursements for device purchases or upgrades. This cost can vary depending on the organization’s BYOD policy.

PROBLEM: While COPE has a transparent upfront cost, BYOD cost can vary depending on the organization’s policy regarding stipends and reimbursements to employees who purchase their own device. Nonetheless, security professionals need to be aware that the initial costs of purchasing devices should not be the core driver of the decision-making process as support and maintenance costs will tend to have a greater impact on annual TCO. 

 

  • Support and Maintenance Costs

COPE: As these devices are owned by the organization, the onus of their maintenance and monitoring squarely rests on the company’s shoulders. This places the full costs of support on the company. 

BYOD: While organizations can save money implementing a BYOD, they will still need to onboard users, provide technical support and software updates to ensure maintained compatibility with the organization’s IT infrastructure. These support costs can easily equal those involved in the deployment of a COPE strategy.

PROBLEM: Device costs can be seen as the visible portion of an ice-berg (larger for COPE and smaller for BYOD), with the “below the waterline” non-visible support and maintenance costs generally the most expensive portion of MDM policies. 

 

  • Security Measures

COPE: Implementing robust security measures, such as encryption and antivirus software, involves licensing fees and ongoing maintenance costs.

BYOD: As with COPE licensing fees and ongoing costs will be a feature, and need to be factored in for BYOD solutions.

PROBLEM: Implementing a BYOD solution to try and eliminate the initial outlay on devices has one major flaw. When it comes to security, 100% BYOD will never be as safe as 100% Company issued.

 

Finding the Right Balance Between Cost and Security

When an organization needs the most secure option they tend to invest in COPE solutions, even though this is the most expensive due to the investment in devices. BYOD is a cheaper, more flexible option, but will incur equally expensive support and maintenance costs, while compromising on security. 

Organizations, however, that implement a BYOD solution can utilize Symmetrium’s minimum resources approach to radically reduce TCO while optimizing security. Symmetrium achieves this by creating virtual devices that reside within the organization’s own IT environment. When these are remotely accessed they are protected by end-to-end encrypted streaming and therefore act as extensions of all organizational security and compliance policies. As each mobile device acts as an on-prem laptop when connecting with data via Symmetrium, the data is protected from any risks associated with a BYOD device being used to access it. 

The result is organizations can limit the TCO involved in managing BYOD mobile devices while being confident their data remains secure and protected, similar to COPE solutions, regardless of the device being used to access it. 

The cost of maintaining security is minimized because using Symmetrium means data never comes to rest on devices outside of the organization’s IT environment. And because Symmetrium extends the security and compliance protocols of the organization’s network to any device used to access the network via Symmetrium it eliminates the need for encryption and antivirus software.

As Symmetrium is device agnostic, it can operate in both BYOD and COPE environments. The cost of support in these environments can be significantly reduced as troubleshooting and software updates are not as critical as the organizational network is accessed through Symmetrium and compatibility issues are practically eliminated.  

 

The Most Effective Way to Reduce TCO and Eliminate Security Flaws

Symmetrium offers the lowest TCO when it comes to mobile data protection thanks to the vastly reduced impact of support and management costs. It achieves this while delivering the security level associated with company-issued devices with the flexibility and ease of management of BYOD.

This allows for the cost effective and efficient management of multiple devices, regardless of their brand or operating systems, with minimal resource allocation, thanks to a centralized management console. When looking to balance the optimum in mobile security with the minimum TCO, Symmetrium’s VMD provides the perfect solution. 

Discover how easy it is to lower your mobile data protection TCO while optimizing your network security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

 

The Stealthy Menace of Spyware: How to Protect Your Workspaces

The remote work revolution has transformed the modern organization. Employees and third-party vendors now frequently access the corporate network from remote locations, giving far more flexibility to organizations regarding, when, where and who can access sensitive data. This, however, has come at a cost, leading to security vulnerabilities that result from enabling remote access to corporate networks.

The potential of this threat was underlined recently when spyware was discovered in over 100 Android applications, whose cumulative download count was more than 421 million on Google Play.

Dubbed ‘SpinOk’, by antivirus company Doctor Web, once the malicious module is installed on victims’ devices, it stealthily steals data and files.

 

An Omnipresent Threat

Sadly, the omnipresent threat of spyware is just another security threat that puts organizations at risk, compromising privacy, and potentially leading to severe data leaks and consequences. 

Spyware works by infiltrating devices without user consent or knowledge. It can sneak in during software downloads from the internet, capitalizing on lengthy and convoluted licensing agreements that are commonly overlooked. It can also employ pop-up windows in web browsers to trick workers using their own devices into triggering a download. Once embedded, spyware operates discreetly in the background to steal sensitive information, such as login details, and data.

A total 39 percent of knowledge workers worldwide are forecast to be engaged in hybrid work by the close of 2023, according to Gartner. In the United States, this figure climbs even higher, with 51 percent of individuals adopting hybrid work arrangements, and an additional one-in-five identifying as fully remote employees. 

However, remote employees are just one security concern. From suppliers to software and resourcing needs, businesses are increasingly turning to third-party contractors. According to Deloitte, over the past five years, the use of third-party vendors has increased exponentially. This is exposing them to increased security threats.

This means that for organizations the obstacles to achieving a true zero-trust environment will remain. 

 

Vulnerabilities in Current Solutions 

With a heavy burden placed on the healthcare sector to be HIPAA compliant, the first line of defense is to ensure devices include the necessary safeguards to guarantee against theft and data loss through the use of a robust layer of security.
HIPAA regulations also require that ePHI data must be encrypted when transmitted over a network. The most popular way of doing this is to create a VPN through which VDIs (virtual desktop infrastructure) can connect to the data, therefore negating the need for it to be encrypted. This however raises problems.

Usage can be limited because a user needs to make sure no one else is using the VDI. This means they have limited flexibility and can be more difficult to scale as needed. This can be a problem for organizations with fluctuating user numbers or those looking to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. There are also security concerns as users operating in a VDI environment can as easily click on a malicious link in an email or on a web page as someone using a physical desktop. 

VDIs also require a heavy level of management and maintenance, which places a heavy burden for qualified IT staff where ongoing training and staff turnover can become problematic. To comply with HIPAA data encryption and data wiping tools may also need to be implemented and maintained. This can add to the management burden. 

 

Addressing the Risks Posed by Remote Access

Employees operating beyond the confines of the corporate network, leveraging personal devices to connect with sensitive business data, expose organizations to heightened security vulnerabilities. This necessitates addressing the expanded stack of identities and endpoints, requiring a comprehensive approach to secure, protect, and manage this multifaceted ecosystem. 

The core focus of securing remote access to corporate networks, implemented by most solutions, lies in managing the multitude of users and devices accessing sensitive data. By implementing robust solutions that facilitate increased cyber resiliency and remote access, organizations believe they can fortify their defenses. This entails mapping the intricate network of users and devices, enabling comprehensive visibility and control. Through this proactive management approach, organizations attempt to respond to emerging threats, ensuring that only authorized users and trusted devices gain access to sensitive data, regardless of their location or endpoint. This however is costly, resource intensive and has inherent security flaws.

 

The Solution to Remote Access Security Concerns

The problem with existing security strategies and solutions is that they focus on protecting devices and people, rather than a sharp focus on protecting the data. They also tend to require significant technology infrastructure upgrades or additions to implement the required secure zero-trust environment. 

Symmetrium revolutionizes this current approach by offering a device-agnostic low-resource solution that enables organizations to maintain their existing information and security technology infrastructure (and protocols?), while focusing on securing an organization’s data. 

This is achieved through the creation of virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that reside within the organization’s network perimeter, and integrate with established enterprise security protocols.  

Authorized remote and third-party users can securely access data using their own devices through Symmetrium’s VMDs. Leveraging P2P encrypted streaming, these VMDs enable users to view data without transferring it to external devices. This view-only functionality ensures that sensitive data never leaves the secure organizational network. 

By maintaining data within the protected perimeter, Symmetrium guarantees that information remains secure, mitigating the risk of data compromise or unauthorized access.

A Game-Changing Zero-Trust Solution

As organizations prioritize the implementation of zero trust, Symmetrium emerges as a game-changing solution. By offering virtual mobile devices that operate within the organization’s network perimeter and leveraging P2P encrypted streaming, Symmetrium ensures data remains secure and never comes to rest on external devices. This approach eliminates the need for extensive technology replacements, allowing organizations to seamlessly integrate Symmetrium within their existing infrastructure. 

With Symmetrium, organizations can confidently navigate the challenges of zero trust and embrace secure digital transformation, safeguarding their data against existing and emerging security threats, such as spyware, and maintaining a competitive edge in today’s evolving landscape.

Protect your workspaces from the ever-present threat of Spyware by creating a true zero-trust environment. Book a demo with Symmetrium here.

The Challenges in Creating a Secure Zero Trust Environment

Most organizations will struggle to implement and securely manage zero-trust environments, due to the many challenges involved, without the adoption of Symmetrium’s Virtual Mobile Device solution. 

The traditional perimeter of organizational networks has been obliterated by the rise of remote work and SaaS services, forcing the implementation of zero-trust environments. This is necessary to cope with the unprecedented growth in endpoints and data sources operating beyond the confines of the traditional organizational network.   

Zero trust provides a more comprehensive approach to security than traditional methods. The core principle of zero trust is to trust nothing and verify everything. This means that all users, devices, apps, software and data both inside the network and outside must be verified and protected. Organizations can therefore, in principal, mitigate the attack surface nefarious actors target to steal data, compromise passwords and other malicious activities. 

 

Problems Implementing Zero Trust

While zero trust is a key strategic focus for most organizations to reduce risk, according to Gartner, very few organizations have completed the scope of their zero-trust implementations.

Many of the associated challenges to implementing a true zero-trust environment are linked to the hybrid work culture, which has become a significant obstacle in securing this model. With more employees working outside the boundaries of the corporate network, using their own devices to connect to sensitive business data, security vulnerabilities have spiked. 

The use of non-secured mobile devices has resulted in an entire stack of identities and end-points that require a full set of resources to continuously secure, protect and manage it. This requires mapping how users and their devices access and interact with sensitive data. Solutions focus on managing these users and devices to help increase cyber resiliency and remote access. 

 

Zero Trust’s Fundamental Flaw

This exposes a fundamental flaw in their approach — a focus on users and devices, and not on data. So once users are granted access the data they access using their mobile comes to rest on that device. Thus the data is no longer in the secure confines of the corporate network environment and is exposed and vulnerable on the device it is now residing on.

Security will always be maximized when there is no data at rest and therefore no data at risk. This is how Symmetrium, a zero-trust data mobile access solution, enables productive collaboration while dramatically minimizing the risk of data breaches. It achieves this by turning any mobile device, managed or unmanaged, into a virtual extension of an organization’s network, with all its compliance, security, and IT. 

 

The Only True Zero-Trust Approach

Using Symmetrium means organizations don’t have to ditch and replace technology to implement a secure zero-trust environment. This is because Symmetrium creates virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that sit protected within the perimeter of an organization’s network and therefore adheres to all existing enterprise network security protocols. 

These VMDs use P2P encrypted streaming to allow authorized remote and third party users to view data using their own devices. This view-only data never leaves the protected organizational network and therefore is never transferred to an external device. This ensures the data at all times remains secure and never comes to rest on external devices.

With zero trust now vital for organizations to survive digital transformation it is critical to overcome the associated challenges. In a world where data, resources and employees are outside the enterprise perimeter, the only true zero-trust approach is to ensure “no data at rest” and Symmetrium’s VMDs are the perfect solution to make this happen.

So, isn’t it time you reconsidered your approach to zero-trust security? Book a demo with Symmetrium here.

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