Study: Mobile Devices Still Lack Security

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab indicates 40 percent of smartphone owners lack antivirus on their devices. The good news: Now the majority of device owners do have security, indicating MDM and mobile device security solutions are gaining steam.

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These days, we use mobile devices for just about anything ranging from online purchases while we’re standing in line at the coffee shop to managing our bank accounts and storing confidential data.

Despite this, a large swath (40 percent) of user smartphones are devoid of antivirus software, according to a May 2012 survey conducted by O+K Research on behalf of Kaspersky Lab. But those numbers are dwindling as MDM solutions and Bring Your Own Device programs become more accepted and streamlined.

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And it's needed. To say that mobile malware is growing is a bit of an understatement. According to a recently released report by ABI Research, unique mobile malware variants grew by 2,180 percent to reach a total of 17,439 between Q1 2011 and Q2 2012.

Granted, while rising exponentially, the number of mobile threats is still vastly dwarfed by the number of existing threats targeting PCs. However, the biggest difference, at least according to the Kaspersky Lab survey, is that users often have a false sense of security when using their mobile phones.

That fact is demonstrated, at least in theory, by the fact that a lower proportion of Apple iPhone owners say they have some kind of security installed on their phones (43 percent) than with Android and Symbian platforms. (53 percent respectively), according to Kaspersky Lab. But while Apple’s iOS has remained a closed platform, and often better protected against malicious programs, it also has prevented development of many security solutions.

Of those users who apply security, the most ubiquitous solution is antivirus. A much smaller number of users apply password security: 31 percent of Blackberry users, 25 percent for iPhone, and 20 percent for other platforms. And only 18 percent of smartphone owners install specialized antitheft solutions.

No doubt, the numbers suggest that there is plenty of opportunity for the channel to beef up mobile security policies and programs, especially in the areas of password protection and comprehensive mobile security solutions that incorporate antitheft technologies. And it wouldn’t hurt for partners to throw in consulting services around mobile best practices.

But that said, the numbers also indicate that many Mobile Device Management solutions and BYOD programs are not only getting off the ground, they’re also gaining traction.

That study maintains that 40 percent of users don’t have antivirus installed on their mobile devices. That means 60 percent do, representing a big step up from just a few years ago, when device security was still a relatively dormant issue.

Those numbers are likely a testament, in part, to the increased adoption of MDM and comprehensive security policies that are certainly becoming more coordinated, streamlined and effective.

The uptick in mobile security adoption is both evident and propelled by copious releases of MDM and mobile security offerings by Kaspersky Lab of ZAO, Symantec Corp., Trend Micro, Inc., and Sophos, among others.

Still in its infancy, the MDM is a space is becoming increasingly competitive, leaving vendors to get creative to make their mark and differentiate.

A TechNavio report forecast the Global Mobile Device Management Enterprise Software market to grow at a CAGR of 7.8 percent between 2010 and 2014, with one of the biggest drivers being the need for sound mobile communication security.

Subsequently, the ABI Research report estimates that the global market for mobile application security will be worth $398 million by the end of 2012.

That’s good news for partners getting their feet wet in the mobile security and management space, or looking to build out their practice and broaden their customer base with alternative solutions such as cloud-based MDM.

 

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