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Cyber crime goes commercial

By Jason Endsleigh: Business Security Product Manager, Telefónica UK

It’s a worrying position to be in when, at the E-Crime conference this year, I learned that organized cybercrime is now an established industry and it generated more revenue in 2016 than the global drugs trade.

At another recent event (Infosec, a huge security showcase for vendors) I was reassured  to see a strong focus on  mobile security. It’s been a long time coming – in my view – as it’s taken quite a while for the security industry to catch up with a trend that started in around 2008.

Cybercrime accelerated with the consumerisation of IT, when true smart devices emerged and highly user-centric cloud services started stealthily finding their way into the workplace, and we’ve all become uber connected. It’s amazing to think that in less than a decade, we’ve seen so much technological change – change which has impacted our lives and working practices beyond recognition. I still remember the early days of BlackBerry, marveling that I could email a contact on the other side of the world in real time on a device in my hand with no wires attached. But now we’re disappointed if we can’t make transactions and access all kinds of rich content instantly on our device of choice, whenever and wherever we are.

How times change. It’s difficult to predict the future, but one thing I think we can safely say is that mobility will continue to innovate, disrupt and deliver new benefits to consumers and business alike. And by mobility, I mean the whole ecosystem of cloud, apps, mobile devices and networks – all connected.

This brings me back to security. The inevitability of the changes we’re facing means that ever more of our company and personal data is spread in different places and across many devices. The mobile security challenge is not a new thing, but it’s a growing threat. As referenced in this article, one piece of mobile malware alone is generating £230K per month for its creator.

It stands to reason that mobile devices, which are central to our work and personal lives will increasingly come under threat. Some of the threats are reasonably well known, including things like “man in the middle” attacks on wifi networks, but others less so. And the nature of the cybercriminal is to always look for new and innovative ways to reach your data and exploit it. Another good example of this is the “AceDeceiver” Trojan that tried to hijack the process governing download and installation of apps from the legitimate App Store, to ultimately deliver malware onto the target device without the user noticing. The 2016 McAfee labs threat report highlighted another new kind of exploit involving seemingly legitimate apps, that when installed together begin colluding to steal information.

Needless to say, these stats and stories paint a gloomy picture. But there are good practices that can be taken to reduce the risk of mobile malware infecting devices, and also new security solutions coming to market that can protect your data and proactively alert you to any malicious activity taking place.

Mobility is at the heart of what we do at O2, and we’re here to help our customers navigate this challenging security landscape. No doubt mobile security will continue to be a very interesting space to watch – feel free to contact me here to find out more, or visit our website to see what we can do to help you.

Ready to scale up your business? Call an O2 business specialist on 0800 028 0202 or call free from your O2 mobile on 8002.


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