Juniper Employee , Juniper Employee Juniper Employee
Mobile Threats: Impacting Businesses, Consumers and Government
Feb 23, 2012

Last week, the Juniper Networks Mobile Threat Center released its 2011 Mobile Threats Report, which shows evidence of accelerating threats targeting mobile devices. Findings include a 155 percent increase in mobile malware across all platforms, as compared to the previous year. Attackers are looking for the largest return on investment and thus targeting the most popular platform: in the last seven months of 2011 alone, malware aimed at the Android platform rose 3,325 percent.


Today, mobile devices are being used in many of the same ways as a personal computer. They have become the vehicle for day-to-day corporate and personal tasks – from email and Facebook to banking and critical business and government applications. As such, mobile devices require the same protections as a PC.


The 2011 Mobile Threats Report findings underscore the need for organizations and individuals to adopt technology and basic cyber hygiene to help mitigate the spread of cyber threats. The sheer volume of mobile devices in use today has given rise to a staggering range of possibilities for users to interact with and manage their work and personal data. However, those same opportunities also open the door to hackers, criminals, and worse.


Mobile malware is an issue that affects everyone, even those in Washington. Mobility is a key topic in cybersecurity debates in Congress, and government agencies are expanding telework initiatives and facing increasing pressure from workforces to allow employees to use their own devices for work—known as BYOD or “bring your own device.”  The threat even goes beyond the rapid growth in mobile malware to ongoing concerns about lost and stolen devices. A lost or stolen device can present devastating risks to information, especially in the government where it can be a matter of national security, as well as for companies that can lose IP or trade secrets—a threat to the U.S. economy.


While mobile threats are a newer and growing problem, there are already best-practices available to individuals, corporations and government agencies to reduce the risk. The growing threat makes it all the more urgent that we leverage all available capabilities to raise the bar of protection by improving basic cyber hygiene.


This includes individual responsibility by device owners, as well as device vendors and service providers, to allow and promote practices such as the ability for users to locate, lock and wipe as well as backup and restore data in the case of a lost or stolen device. But it goes beyond this. There needs to be a comprehensive national dialogue, including an effective approach to education and awareness, that includes all stakeholders in the citizen, academic, business, government and non-profit communities.


As the risk in cyberspace continues to grow and become more sophisticated, it has never been more important for government and industry to work together collaboratively to improve our ability to detect, prevent, mitigate, and respond to cyber events that may become incidents of national or even global consequence.