The rapid switch to remote working prompted by the Covid-19 crisis has exposed many companies to new cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
"In the rush to get employees set up for home working earlier this year, mobile security may not have been front of mind, however as cybercrime continues to increase, securing employees' mobile devices has never been more important," says Ciara O'Reilly, head of product, propositions and operations at Three Ireland. "Company laptops are generally well protected but mobile is changing all the time, and often employers may not be aware of the potential risk with mobile."
Cybercriminals are always evolving to exploit new vulnerabilities, and the increased use of mobiles for work purposes is one of them
Three has responded to this increased threat level with the launch of its 3Mobile Protect security solution. "We have brought it to market in partnership with award-winning cybersecurity company Corrata and in conjunction with CWSI," says O'Reilly. "3Mobile Protect is a simple to use business mobile security solution that protects mobile devices from phishing and malware and prevents data loss on company smartphones and tablets."
It has been designed with employees’ privacy in mind, ensuring that their data and usage details are always protected, O’Reilly adds. Very importantly it blocks access to phishing sites, malware download servers, and unapproved content and services.
“Phishing is a really big issue,” she says. “Eighty-five per cent of phishing is now done on messaging channels other than email and people are not as alert to them as they might be. There was even one on LinkedIn a while ago and people wouldn’t expect that.
“The cybercriminals are always evolving to exploit new vulnerabilities, and the increased use of mobiles for work purposes is one of them.”
She points out that the Mobile Security Index for 2019 showed that enterprise users were three times more likely than personal users to click on a phishing link on their mobile.
“They may just assume that the mobile is secured because it is owned by their employer,” she notes. “It is quite interesting and shows how important it is to educate people as well as to secure the phones.”
Corrata chief executive Colm Healy highlights the increased risk posed by remote working. "The increasing prevalence of phishing, malware and network attacks against poorly secured mobile devices poses a serious risk to businesses," he says. "Mobile operators have the trust and expertise to identify the best security solutions for their customers. The 3Mobile Protect security solution is effective, easy to use and respectful of employees privacy."
One organisation already using the new solution is the Simon Community. With staff operating across Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow, Meath, Louth, Cavan and Monaghan, mobile devices are essential to the charity's work.
Earlier this year, Simon noticed a surge in cybercrime activity. The leadership team had been targeted by SMS scams on their mobiles more often. There was also a spike in phishing messages appearing to come from banks, along with fraudulent emails designed to trick people into sending money to fake accounts.
"Covid-19 was the perfect timing for fraud; suddenly you had many more people working remotely, and they no longer had office firewalls and virtual private networks to protect them," says Martin Hannigan, Simon's head of finance and corporate services. "We could see the vulnerabilities we had on mobiles and our virus checkers and firewalls were showing an increase in potential attacks on desktops and laptops.
“You can’t hover over an email address on a mobile to see if it’s genuine like you can on a laptop. That was always a vulnerability, so to have that extra layer of security is essential.”
Security improved immediately and noticeably since Simon installed 3Mobile Protect, as it blocks any attempt to connect to a malicious site. “It’s prevented potential attacks that we never would have been aware of before,” says Martin.
Deploying the technology was easy and fast. “It’s so seamless: in a couple of clicks, you download the app, it’s on your phone, with no adverse effect on the phone’s performance, that’s one of the big advantages for our users,” Martin adds.
It runs in the background as a native application with no drain on the battery,” O’Reilly notes. “Users don’t have to set it up or switch it on for users. No company or personal is sent to the cloud for inspection. It only looks at data which is security critical.
“It can be downloaded straight from the app store or play store and is compatible with the mobile device management systems that some companies use. Feedback from the market has been excellent. It is a very affordable mobile security solution for businesses of all sizes at €3.95 per month per user.”