Security Experts:

Most Mobile Breaches Will be Tied to App Misconfiguration by 2017: Gartner

Analyst firm Gartner is predicting that by 2017, the focus of endpoint security breaches will shift to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

With nearly 2.2 billion smartphones and tablets expected to be sold in 2014, Gartner believes attackers will continue to pay more attention to mobile devices. By 2017, 75 percent of mobile security breaches will be the result of mobile application misconfigurations, analysts said.

"Mobile security breaches are — and will continue to be — the result of misconfiguration and misuse on an app level, rather than the outcome of deeply technical attacks on mobile devices," said Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement. "A classic example of misconfiguration is the misuse of personal cloud services through apps residing on smartphones and tablets. When used to convey enterprise data, these apps lead to data leaks that the organization remains unaware of for the majority of devices."

Doing significant damage in the world of mobile devices requires that malware be launched on devices that have been altered at the administrative level, Zumerle argued. While jailbreaking or rooting phones allows users to access device resources that are not normally accessible, they also put data in danger because they remove app-specific protections as well as the safe 'sandbox' provided by the operating system, he said, adding that they can also allow malware to be downloaded to the device and enable malicious actions.

"The most obvious platform compromises of this nature are 'jailbreaking' on iOS or 'rooting' on Android devices. They escalate the user's privileges on the device, effectively turning a user into an administrator," he said.

Gartner recommends organizations protect mobile devices using a mobile device management policy as well as app shielding and containers that protect important data. In addition, passcodes should be used alongside timeout standards and a limited number of retries. Jailbreaking or rooting devices should not be allowed.

"We also recommend that they favor mobile app reputation services and establish external malware control on content before it is delivered to the mobile device," Zumerle said.


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