We're surrounded by communications technology. Compared to the rate at which computers entered the workplace, smartphones and tablets are being adopted at breakneck speed.
Not only is mobile working firmly on the management agenda of every successful enterprise, it's carving out a new landscape. There are now a billion mobile workers worldwide, and this figure increases nearly two million more each week1. Of large enterprises in Europe, 88% now provide portable devices for their staff – including laptops, smartphones and2. Global mobile data usage grew by 70% last year and connection speeds doubled. Cloud applications are also accelerating the shift to mobile working – around 75% of mobile traffic is now cloud-driven3.
On the one hand, this proliferation of new communications technology enables enterprises to be flexible and efficient. While on the other, it can result in fragmentation, complexity and a greater risk of security breaches. The paradox is that, when it comes to managing this risk, technology is both cause and cure.
Where is the trust?
As innovative new technologies continue to transform the business communications landscape, keeping company data and devices secure is a top priority, and a continuous challenge.
Enterprises demand technologies that can enable instantaneous communications, keep business-critical operations running and help drive future growth. At the same time, the level of security surrounding these technologies needs to deliver absolute confidence that the risk of corporate and personal data being compromised is minimal - both to the employee end-user and the business decision-maker.
This high level of confidence in communications technology extends beyond devices to platforms, data and intellectual property, but is rarely questioned until there is a security alert or an actual breach. Companies with operations in Europe will soon be required to be more proactive in accordance with the recently published European Commission Cybersecurity Strategy, which proposes a new directive on network and information security that will oblige organisations to adopt risk management practices and report major security incidents. This can be seen as an opportunity for companies to build trust around their technology4.
Raising the threat level
The rise of mobility has led to a host of new security threats which can undermine the trust businesses have in their communications technologies. Tablets, laptops and mobile devices are part of an interconnected data system – they're also small, portable and therefore particularly vulnerable. So the loss of a single tablet or smartphone could compromise a whole network. This is paramount where third-party data and intellectual property are at stake – and illustrates the complexity of the risk landscape.
Symantec estimates that cybercrime victims worldwide valued the time lost and money stolen at €388 billion in 2011, and 2012 saw a huge increase in malware attacks and other security breaches targeted directly at mobile devices5.
So cybercrime has become more mobile-focused, with hackers enlisted to target confidential and potentially more exposed mobile data. The greater frequency and impact of sophisticated attacks designed to steal specific valuable data and to cause targeted damage are in addition to existing data loss and theft of sensitive corporate information. Thieves target devices because they can open doors to sensitive data, data which is almost always worth more than the device itself.
Data can also be intercepted when transmitted between mobile devices via insecure communications channels, such as public Wi-Fi. In fact, all mobile data is at risk unless it is heavily encrypted, so potential dangers also exist around short-range wireless channels such as Bluetooth, NFC (near field communication) and RFID (radio-frequency identification).
As well as targeting corporate data, a growing proportion of malware is designed to steal money. Toll fraud – unwittingly charging victims for premium text message services – accounted for nearly two-thirds of applications-based threats in 20127. Any of these threats could cause data loss or leakage and lead to legal action with fines or penalties, reputation damage, a drop in revenue and the loss of consumer trust.
Working with trust
The stakes couldn't be higher for getting security right in your enterprise. When you're considering potential communication partners, a consistent and comprehensive global security portfolio should be a top priority.
Creating a robust security environment enables you to build trust throughout your stakeholder network. It can help you retain customers by demonstrating that their personal and financial data is safe with you. By allowing employees to work from anywhere with the latest technologies in a secure environment, you can attract and retain talent. Ensuring compliance and improving your disaster recovery processes and business resilience shows you're doing the utmost to protect your corporate data. All of which helps to build trust among shareholders on your commitment to maintaining brand value and reputation in an increasingly complex mobile world.
1. Mobile Worker Population to Reach 1.3 Billion by 2015, According to IDC. IDC press release, 5 Jan 2012.↩ 2. CT usage in enterprises in 2012. Eurostat news release, 11 December 2012.↩ 3. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012-2017. Cisco, 6 February 2013.↩ 4. The Symantec Smartphone Honey Stick Project. Symantec Corporation, 2012.↩ 5.State of Mobile Security 2012. Lookout Mobile Security. Figure 1: Application-based Threats Breakdown.↩