The Big Telecom Event ended on a strong note at the Sheraton Towers in Chicago last Tuesday afternoon with a highly informative panel session on mobile network security, sponsored by leading telecom industry blog Heavy Reading. Patrick Donegan, a senior analyst at the site, led a discussion with Neil Cook, CTO at Cloudmark, who provided some fascinating insights into the state of security on our ubiquitous devices today. Here are some of our critical takeaways from the highly informative presentation:
How attacks happen
Statistically, users are far less concerned about their mobile devices being compromised than they are about larger equipment with more memory, like laptops and cloud servers amongst other tools. In spite of this lax approach to individual security, it's far easier to send out spam messages by SMS texting than any other existing service. Cook's research, conducted by Heavy Reading, indicated that the open rate for a text message is 90 percent and because the majority of messaging plans are unlimited today, receiving the spam comes at absolutely no cost to the recipient. Common types of attacks include nuisance advertising ("You won!"), fraud/phishing schemes (texts asking for credit card info) and malware (a request to download potentially harmful data).
Who should be worried
At the end of the day, Cook made it clear that anyone with a mobile device and an Internet connection should beef up their knowledge of basic mobile security practices - that is, nearly everyone. Unlike with basic email filters, which are provided as a standard component of web-based email, a user must purchase a service like Cloudmark to prevent receiving these types of messages via phone. It's easy to ignore an email, but the open rate for SMS messages is so high that by opening a message, you are likely putting the security of all the data on your mobile device at risk.
Research indicated that the number of attacks made on cloud technology belonging to a business has increased in the past two years, making it more important than ever that companies take measures to protect their business phone systems and, by extension, the data of both their organizations and individual employees. With text messaging showing no decline in popularity, it's likely that this "easy hack" will persist, and companies will continue to risk a loss of funds or data until active action is taken.
Stay tuned for continuing coverage of this year's Big Telecom Event in Chicago!