Businesses need to prepare their systems to monitor and track data passing through and being stored on consumer-focused devices, such as Android smartphones, if they want to keep their corporate data safe from hackers, according to security firm Lookout.
Principal security engineer at Lookout Timothy Wyatt told V3 the number of threats targeting mobile devices is increasing.
"We see a high propensity of attacks targeting our user base every day. The range of attack type varies substantially. It ranges from basic toll fraud scams, that force the mobile to send messages to premium-rate numbers, to apps capable of opening up backdoors," he said.
Wyatt added that, if left unchallenged, hackers could develop attacks that use smartphones as a point of entry to businesses' main data reserves.
"We haven't seen hackers using smartphones as an entry point into corporate networks yet, but it is definitely possible," he said.
"Even in corporate environments where proper safeguards should be in place, if devices connecting to the network aren't being checked, they're presenting an opportunity for hackers."
Wyatt said businesses must start putting smart devices, such as phones and tablets, through the same scrutiny as PCs to deal with the increased threat.
"As a general lay of the land businesses need to start treating mobile devices like any other device. They should know who and what is connecting and keep a full itinerary of what data they're accessing, storing and sending," he said.
Wyatt added that the use of cloud services for storing data is a particularly dangerous practice as information stored on a phone can present an opportunity for hackers. "Email is a good example of the danger as usually it's full of sensitive information," he said.
"One of the biggest concerns is it could lead into cloud services, things like Dropbox and Box. The threat is just as true on mobile devices as it is on PCs."
The Lookout engineer said businesses should also invest in resources to educate their workforces about cyber security best practice.
"Having a policy in place that gets all employees to have passcodes on their devices is a good idea," he said.
"It's also important to make sure people have situational awareness – that they think and know about what they're doing, where they're getting apps from, what attachments they're opening."
Telecoms giant Cisco estimated that 99 percent of all mobile malware is designed to target Android in its latest threat report.
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