Mobile Malware and the Corporate Network

by VPNHaus | 05/19/2014

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, and for IT teams looking to patch the latest vulnerability (i.e. Heartbleed), trying to prevent the next attack is a full-time job in itself. However, it’s not very often that we have a chance to examine some tangible information about the threats we’re trying to safeguard against. That’s why research recently highlighted in CIO Insight caught our attention.

A Look Back

In order to understand where we’re headed, it’s important to understand where we’ve come from. The research took a look back at 2013, examining the prevalence of security concerns like spam and malware, which allowed some extrapolations to be made about what to expect in 2014.

For example, CIO Insight reports a significant drop in spam levels as a result of more botnets being traced and removed. But true to form, when one way to wreak havoc is stifled, cyber criminals quickly changed tactics. Now, instead of trying to lure unsuspecting victims into downloading an illegitimate attachment containing malware, malicious links are being included right in the body of the message. These malicious links aren’t only in emails, though – the research revealed the number of malware URLs increased by 131 percent last year, appearing most frequently on education, travel, sports and pornography websites.

Unsurprisingly, an increasing amount of traffic to the aforementioned websites is being driven from mobile devices. And, as we’ve previously discussed, Android devices are becoming cyber criminals’ favorite targets. In fact, over the last six months of 2013, “an average of 5,768 types of Android malware was found per day.” With enterprises already contemplating security concerns spurred by BYOD, this research will provide little comfort. However, with the right precautions, the danger of these threats to the enterprise can be marginalized.

Protecting the Corporate Network

As evidenced by the research, mobile devices are increasingly likely to be infected by malware, and to secure remote access to corporate networks in a BYOD environment, a comprehensive security strategy must be implemented. Now more than ever, it’s imperative to educate employees on the danger of mobile malware, and help them understand how to best determine if a link is malicious, to prevent a device from being compromised before it accesses a network. Even when this precaution is taken, though, accidents are bound to happen and enterprises must be prepared for the worst.

A centrally managed VPN that can interoperate with multiple layers of other network and security components can prevent malware and ransomware from spreading across a network and infecting other endpoints or the network itself. With central management, network admins are able to check whether a device has up-to-date antimalware and antivirus tools, and quarantine potentially insecure devices. Network admins can also immediately revoke access to any endpoint if there is a breach. Further, central management enables software updates to be rolled out automatically, ensuring each endpoint has the most up-to-date and thus most secure remote access connection. When combined with other best-of-breed security components such as dynamic personal firewalls, mobile device management and intrusion prevention systems (IPS), the risk of malware infection and a costly damage control initiative is substantially reduced.