Mobile Applications Exposed?
Most experts agree that over the course of 2011 the level of mobile attacks and malware became more sophisticated
By: John Weinschenk
Jun. 27, 2012 12:45 PM
Is your business creating a mobile app? It's all the rage, of course. Ninety-one percent of the top 100 brands have branded apps out according to a report by mobile analytics firm Distimo last October. Symantec just announced new research that says 53% of North American companies are making line-of-business applications available on employee's mobile phones. Internal productivity, mobile product interfaces, extending eCommerce into mCommerce, customer entertainment and branding - there are a multitude of reasons for a business to launch mobile apps.
But in the rush to not miss the trend, most executives are instead missing the threat. In that same Symantec study, 77% of the IT and C-level respondents categorized mobile computing as a "neutral" to "extremely low" level of risk, which makes complete sense given mobile security issues reported on to date. It all seems rather been-there-done that; device theft is certainly nothing new, nor is malware, Trojans or viruses. IT departments deal with these issues already, every day, what's different?
What's different is the connection between mobile apps and back-end systems, a connection that, depending on how the application code is written, can have vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. The difference is the value between stealing data from one device and stealing data from the server it connects to. If you were a profiteering hacker, where would you set your sights: Joe User's email and attachments, or the backup database with everyone's email and attachments? Would you make more money hijacking mobile credit card transactions one at a time, or hacking a mobile payments authentication and verification database? Sure, it's a more complex hack, but the payoff is exponential. And no one is talking about it, warning against it, or testing their mobile applications to see if they're vulnerable.
Most experts agree that over the course of 2011 the level of mobile attacks and malware became more sophisticated. Even still, many of us agree that we've only seen the first act. As mobile apps proliferate and hackers gain experience and sophistication, there will be an increase in attacks focused on the big data - corporate intellectual property, financial data, and sensitive customer information. It's where the money is, and that's where most serious hackers want to be. Test your apps for vulnerabilities before they're released and regularly thereafter. While it is smart for many businesses to jump into mobile apps, don't overlook the potential access they can provide to hackers and the significant risk to sensitive data, your customers, and your reputation.
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