Don’t ignore mobile malware

Organisations should protect mobile technology from the growing threat of malware, says Palo Alto Networks


It’s taken many businesses years to understand how pervasive mobile malware has become, and why patchwork “mobile device management” solutions are woefully insufficient for securing, protecting and enabling the use of mobile devices by employees.

But thanks to how quickly the use of mobile devices has grown in the past few years – by orders of magnitude – there’s no question that we need to move past a theoretical discussion of mobile-device threats and focus on real-world solutions.

At Palo Alto Networks, we’re encountering so many new samples of mobile malware on a weekly basis that it’s clear the decision point is here. It’s time to act.

Already we’ve found that sophisticated attackers are using new techniques to propagate and distribute mobile malware. Cyber criminals for some time have been picking apart well-known mobile gaming applications, such as Flappy Bird, loading them up with malicious code and repackaging them for app stores.

Recent data from Palo Alto Networks WildFire service shows examples of how attackers repackage popular open source applications and make them available for consumption on Google Android devices.

These techniques are a reminder that we can’t forget the human side of the security equation and, even with the best of training, users can be fooled into doing dangerous things. Many users also seem to think they’re immune to security threats, so instead of taking the attitude of constant vigilance, they assume the bad things will usually happen to someone else.

At Palo Alto Networks, we believe no device should be considered trusted by default. At best, a mobile device is untrusted and, at worst, it’s potentially dirty or compromised. That’s why organisations should consider classifying the conditions for using a mobile device on company networks.

Organisations can no longer ignore mobile malware or the threat posed to mobile devices and the sensitive data they access

The common baseline for mobile devices is internet access – many people just want to use wi-fi to access their web applications. As this interaction does not necessitate privileged access to company resources, then the organisation may choose to extend access to the internet, while maintaining adherence to company policies as well as enforcing threat prevention against exploits and malware.

These protections are extended to all users and all devices by the Palo Alto Networks next-generation security platform.

True management of these devices means the organisation can safely extend greater levels of access using the condition of the device as part of the security policy. Our GlobalProtect Mobile Security Manager manages the mobile device and shares information about the device state with our enterprise security platform.

In conjunction with global intelligence on mobile threats from WildFire, GlobalProtect will also check to see if the device has malware on it and take immediate action to enforce the appropriate policy based on condition.

GlobalProtect can also keep users protected by the next-generation security platform even when they are in remote locations. This is because GlobalProtect can establish a virtual private network (VPN) tunnel on the user’s behalf to the optimal gateway for a particular location, thus providing consistent enforcement of policy, as well as protection against mobile threats, even when using the device away from the office.

Organisations can no longer ignore mobile malware or the threat posed to mobile devices and the sensitive data they access. Through GlobalProtect and our enterprise security platform, we offer prevention, protection, and the broadest and deepest intelligence into mobile applications and threats.

Learn about GlobalProtect and what it means to enable and empower your mobile workforce: https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/products/technologies/globalprotect.html