Cybersecurity has become a burgeoning problem in the United States. Acts of ransomware and phishing are on the rise, which means that businesses and customers alike are at risk of being hacked and having their data stolen. Communications service providers (CSPs) play a critical role in this process as they have the means to protect their mobile subscribers against the latest cybersecurity threats. Many CSPs are responding quickly through a few key ways, as outlined below.
Types of Cyberthreats
Research from Norton indicates that in 2017 alone, 143 million consumers were victims of cybercrime. Since then, cybercrime has not only risen but the means and methods have also become more sophisticated. Below are some of the current cyberthreats that target mobile phones:
App-Based Mobile Threats
Applications are one of the main causes of mobile device vulnerabilities. Attacks on applications can occur if someone accidentally downloads a malicious app or grants permission to a third-party app without checking if it’s safe.
Web-Based Mobile Threats
These types of threats are usually the result of phishing or spoofing. Hackers will send an email or text and make it looks like it’s from a legitimate source. However, these cleverly disguised apps contain malicious content that are programmed to gain access to a device if it is downloaded.
Network threats occur on unsecured or free public WiFi connections. Logging on to a WiFi connection in a café, for example, can make a device’s data visible to people who can hack into that connection.
One of the main ways that CSPs have tried to deal with the above threats has been to provide security software and apps to customers. This has taken the form of anti-virus and anti-malware apps that can be downloaded onto the device.
While these are great in principle (and work for the most part), one of the main problems is that it requires a customer to be motivated to download, install, and buy an app or subscription. Studies have revealed that consumer participation is quite low when it comes to security apps, which leaves many phones vulnerable and unprotected. CSPs have tried to circumvent this issue by pre-loading the apps onto devices; however, some customers have seen this as intrusive bloatware.
Network-Based Security Solutions
A recent solution to this problem with mobile-based solutions is network security services. These services provide an extra layer of protection for customers as they stop threats at the operator level, which means they can prevent attacks before they even reach a customer’s phone. This can be likened to stopping thieves before they even enter a shop.
Because the protection runs through the network, no downloading is required from the phone user (which deals with the issue of low consumer buy-in). In other words, network security services run in the background and become a resident on the existing network. These services are also compatible with any kind of device or operating system, and they are frequently kept up to date in terms of the latest threats. The beauty of network security services is that they provide an effortless and non-intrusive way to protect customers.
Advice to Customers
Outside endpoint and network security, CSPs are also encouraging their customers to be vigilant when it comes to their phones. This includes advice such as:
- Always locking phones with a passcode or fingerprint authentication.
- Not logging on to unsecured WiFi networks.
- Encrypting phone data and storage.
- Only downloading apps from trusted sources such as Google Play and the Apple App store.