These days, small business owners have many tech-related concerns to take into consideration in the daily operations of their companies, and the issue may be particularly problematic for those whose employees regularly use mobile devices.
While mobile technology has become ubiquitous in the world and is often vital to the success of small businesses on some level, the problem with it is that hackers are well aware of that reality, according to a new study from NQ Mobile. As such, the amount of malware that can affect mobile devices running Google’s popular Android operating system has exploded in the last four years.
Over the course of 2012, there were 65,227 types of malware attacks on these mobile devices, up from just 24,794 the year before, the report said. And the 2011 figure was itself almost four times more than the 6,760 observed in 2010, and much higher than the mere 1,649 such incidents recorded in 2009. And problematically, more cyber criminals are now focusing their efforts on entities in the U.S., and using both these programs and what are known as “social engineering” attacks including phishing scams as a means of tricking mobile device users into downloading the malware.
Some of the most popular types of malware are loaded onto unsuspecting victims’ mobile devices in a few ways, the report said. One of the most popular is that, because the Android Market app download service is largely unregulated, criminals can disguise their malicious programs as all types of useful things, such as calculators or games. And while these might appear to work as the description notes, they can also obviously lead to identity theft and other problems that can leave businesses liable for massive issues. The same is true of attack sites that are designed specifically to target mobile phones, because they can hide behind URL-shortening link services and, once clicked, load malware directly onto a phone or tablet.
What can small business owners do?
The problem with these malware attacks is that they can come in so many different ways and affect so many different phone functions, the report said. Some may mine phones for data, while others can take them over to send bogus text messages designed to only spread the malware to more devices. Some texts will even contain data that causes phones to charge as much as $4 per texted image or message, which can obviously be quite profitable for the malware’s creators.
As such, it’s very difficult for small business owners to get a proper handle on the ways in which they can address these issues. One way to do so is to make sure workers are aware of the threats they may face, and to only authorize them to use their business-specific mobile devices for company purposes, and have their own devices for personal use. Further, they need to be aware of what can happen any time they download an app from a developer they don’t recognize. Further, they should be wary of any messages or calls they receive from numbers they don’t recognize, as these may be part of phishing attacks designed to glean important information about a company. It may also be wise for small business owners to invest in anti-virus software for mobile as well as desktop devices to help limit the damage these malware programs can do.
Of course, data breaches and other types of information exposure as a result of malware can be quite costly to remediate, and as such, it might be wise for small business owners to also seek out tech insurance which helps to cover them in the event of this type of incident.