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Mobile Security Trends for 2017 and Beyond

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What does mobile security look like for 2017? We're going to be honest: There are a lot of changes.

Here's what to expect.

1. Focus Will Shift From Device Management to Data Protection

No one likes device management.

Employees really don't like it – especially when companies manage to read their private texts or emails.

Companies don't like the effort and time it takes. IT finds it exhausting and really couldn't care less how much time you spend playing Candy Crush. Let's face it: The time of individual data management is over.

The good news is that there are concrete strategic reasons reason to leave device and app management in the past:

  • It's too complex.
  • It's too expensive.
  • Cloud technology exists.

If you have a BYOD policy, it's probably too complex. Everyone has different phones with different apps, and all the silos it would take to manage the devices is just a headache.

Too complex also means too expensive. It takes too much policing and purchases to keep up the sort of device management needed today, especially for larger or tech-oriented companies.

Not to mention, cloud technology exists.

Once upon a time, data could be described as "belonging" to a particular device, but that just isn't true anymore. Data now freely floats between devices – and that opens up new strategies.

In other words, devices don't matter much anymore.

What matters is how data is shared, and how it is protected, both during use and during storage.

2. Workforces Will Become Even More Mobile

If you think mobile is big now, just wait! It's already well known that mobile tech is more popular than desktop tech.

Even Google has switched over to algorithms that favor page ranking by mobile site quality instead of desktop quality.

Just take a look down the street or on the bus, and you'll see how mobile devices have dominated everyday actions.

But the change is still rolling out in the workplace. Companies aren't quite used to the change yet, and 2017 will be the year of resolution.

Think about this:

Around 61% of workers say they work outside of the office at least part of the time.

What devices do you think they're working on? What wireless networks do you think they're using?

Or what about this one:

Between 2014 and 2015, mobile devices managed in enterprises increased by 72%.

Just imagine how more mobile use grew in 2016!

Another fun fact: iOS is the most popular platform, and 90% of companies mandate password protection.

In summary:

  1. People are working just about anywhere, including the café down the street and their couch at home.
  2. BYOD policies are common and growing even more common. Mobile is now ubiquitous at the workplace.
  3. Businesses are still trying to control mobile security with device and app management, using passcodes and similar measures.
  4. That approach isn't working well — some of the top blacklisted apps are Dropbox and Mail, which you may recognize as very common business tools!

3. EMM/Mobile Security Will Come to IoT (Or Else)

What's the biggest new threat when it comes to data theft?

If you said the Internet of Things, great! You're paying attention!

IoT is growing fast, and not just in the home. As more smart devices come out on the market, more businesses are using them to collect data and save money.

In fact, we bet if you thought about it, you could name a smart device or two your business is using right now.

That's a problem.

You see, IoT devices collect information and store or stream data in ways similar to mobile phones — with even less protection.

4. This makes the Internet of Things particularly vulnerable to specific attacks.

One example is ransomware:

When you can stop a smart device from functioning, it's easy to hold a person hostage for a quick buck. How much more effective would that be against a business filled with smart devices?

2017 will be the year we find out.

As a result, mobile security strategists have three options:

  1. Expand solutions to include the internet of things (this is the most promising option, but it requires vendors/solutions made for the IoT)
  2. Ignore other smart devices and focus only on mobile phones (what we think of as the "yelling with your hands over your ears" approach)
  3. Ban or limit vulnerable smart devices (which means the business may lose out on trends or useful tech)

5. Voice Control/Personal Assistant Use Will Increase (and so will security needs)

In 2016, we saw the swift rise of voice controls and personal assistants on both mobile devices and desktops.

CES 2017 was filled with more of the same. Marketers can't stop talking about how voice searches are going to change the Internet forever. But that's not all voice commands are changing — they are also shifting focus when it comes to data security.

Why?

Because we don't know if they can be hacked yet. And when it comes to data, there's a good rule to follow:

If a device exists, it can probably be hacked. The good news is that current voice assistant software appears to be pretty safe.

Amazon's Echo, for example, is specifically designed so that people can't root around and dig up voice files.

But all it takes is one vulnerability to sneak in, and suddenly hackers can listen to what you're saying — possibly everything you're saying.

2017 will be the proving field for the safety of these voice programs, and just how useful they'll be for companies that want to increase productivity.

6. Mobile Payments Will Grow More Commonplace

Vendors have been pushing mobile payments for a while now.

In 2017, we'll see a lot of enterprises, especially smaller companies, say, "All right, fine." Venmo, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Mobile Paypal — it will all become more common.

(This is already happening in many areas — I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant that didn't offer some kind of mobile payment.)

This is great for that market niche, but it also raises a lot of security questions.

This year, businesses are going to be a lot more vocal about how this data is secured, and vendors will sink or swim based on how many vulnerabilities are found.

Just remember:

When customer payments are involved, everyone gets a little...tense. There's no room for errors on this one.

7. Virtualization Will Become the Industry Standard When It Comes to EMM

So, we've talked about a lot of different problems — let's end on a better note.

2017 is the year that businesses will be looking for new solutions.

(you may be in this stage right now!)

Faced with rising mobile threats, it makes sense to search for a solution that works.

And that solution, for many companies, is the sort of virtualization that Avast offers.

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Virtualization does several things which promise security for the new digital age:

  • It keeps data secure on servers instead of storing it on mobile devices.
  • It offers a central app for users to access all business data, ideal for BYOD situations.
  • It doesn't rely on snooping or complex device management, which can save time.
  • It can provide security across many devices, making it viable long-term and easily scalable.

In other words, if you're worried about mobile security, virtualization is the way to go.

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