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Security myths debunked

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Think your enterprise mobile devices are secure? Think again. The devices your employees use for work purposes are treasure troves of sensitive information, writes DOROS HADJIZENONOS, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa.

Think your enterprise mobile devices are secure? Think again. The iOS and Android devices your employees use for work purposes are treasure troves of sensitive information, and it only takes one compromised device to put your business in a perilous predicament.

A 2016 survey of IT security professionals showed that 40% of organisations make BYOD available to all employees while 32% make it available to select employees. Workers use these same devices to download personal apps and emails – exposing your network to phishing scams and malware infections.

More than one billion Android mobile devices are not safe – and may never be. iPhones and iPads aren’t immune to risk either. In fact, there is a 50% chance that an organisation with more than 2,000 mobile devices has at least six infected devices.

Here are the five most common misconceptions about mobile security and how you can secure your mobile workforce.

1.       Mobile isn’t a big problem

Firewalls and security infrastructures that protect PC desktops and laptops do not provide enough protection from mobile attacks.

Mobile attacks come from three primary sources: network attacks, infected apps and system exploits. While testing mobile security for prospective customers, Check Point regularly finds 5% to 20% of enterprise devices are already compromised. It takes only one compromised device to penetrate your security perimeter.

Discovering a breach takes an average of about six months, and a response to fix the breach another three months. This means that once a breach is detected, the damage is already done. Remediation can be costly, as is containing the damage to brand reputation. Even if the damage is under control, your company may not know vital trade secrets were compromised until your competitive advantage is suddenly lost.

2.       MDM is enough

Many companies rely on basic mobile hygiene policies using mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions. Some augment these solutions with a hodgepodge of point solutions that offer incremental and often rudimentary enhancements.

These solutions help control damage inflicted by compromised devices and address many known threats, but are unable to detect recently created malware or new vulnerabilities in networks, operating systems and apps.

For example, gaining root access to a mobile device (also called “rooting” on Android or “jailbreaking” on iOS) enables cybercriminals to make a broad range of customisations and configurations to serve their objectives. MDM and EMM systems detect the existence of certain files in a system directory that enable root access by employing several methods, including static root indicators. However, free tools for Android and iOS devices are available for avoiding this type of detection. By changing root access indicators continually, cybercriminals can evade detection, and even deny root check requests from the EMM or MDM system, disabling detection entirely.

3.       Secure containers are safe

Secure containers for data management platforms provide security inside the enterprise perimeter. However, mobile devices often access systems and apps like Salesforce, Oracle or SAP outside the perimeter. While these systems and apps have their own protections, network spoofs or man-in-the-middle attacks eavesdrop, intercept and alter traffic. Everything a user does, including entering passwords, could be intercepted by criminals, and used to breach the perimeter and to steal financial and personnel information.

Attackers often trick employees into logging into malicious sites. While users believe they’re interacting with a known and trusted entity in the cloud, the attacker takes over their device, copying credentials, snooping on instant messages, or stealing their sensitive information.

Corporate executives and employees sometimes save critical documents and sensitive information outside the secure container – using a cloud storage service to easily access while travelling or share with partners. Once compromised, attackers intercept these communications and access these important and sometimes confidential documents.

4.       iOS is immune

Apple’s iOS is not immune to threats. Some organisations using MDMs unwittingly distribute infected apps to iPhones and iPads. Apps from unauthorised, unreliable app stores may also harbour viruses, and hackers even compromised Apple’s development tools, sneaking malware into new apps without the developers’ knowledge.

Check Point recently discovered a vulnerability found in iOS that exploits a loophole in the Apple Developer Enterprise program. The program lets organisations develop and distribute apps for internal enterprise use without publishing them on Apple’s App Store. These apps typically distribute quickly and directly to devices.

However, malicious apps can use this same method and enable criminals to stage man-in-the-middle attacks and hijack communications between managed iOS devices and MDM solutions. This type of exploit gives criminals control of the devices, the data that resides on them, and even enterprise MDM services.

Flaws in Apple’s enterprise app installation process allow the introduction of unverified code into the iOS ecosystem. MDM systems could end up being the distribution systems for the very malicious apps they are defending against. Without an advanced mobile threat detection and mitigation solution on your iPhone, you may never suspect that any malicious behaviour ever took place.

5.       Mobile antivirus is all I need

Mobile antivirus solutions are limited compared to their PC cousins. They can uncover malicious code in apps by looking for unique binary signatures that identify known malware. However, criminals have found new ways to obfuscate those signatures, making them useless in the detection of mobile malware. Even a slight change in the code, such as adding a simple line that does nothing, changes the app’s signature and the new version of the malicious app will slip by undetected by the antivirus program.

Signatures are not available for “zero-day” (newly created) malware. To catch and block a virus, your antivirus program first must know that it exists. Even if updated daily, antivirus programs still couldn’t keep up with the onslaught of these attacks.

Secure your mobile workforce

Mobile devices require a new, intelligent approach to threat prevention. MDM and EMM protection and secure containers are not enough, and antivirus products cannot cope with new malware found every day. Even iPhones are not secure. The continuous, rising wave of attacks puts your company at serious risk.

You need a solution that continuously analyses devices, uncovering known and unknown vulnerabilities and criminal behaviour, by applying threat emulation, advanced static code analysis, app reputation, and machine learning.

Stop malware before it communicates with criminal servers, and detect threats at the device, app, and network levels. Always have an accurate picture of the threats and devices on your network and detailed information about risk mitigation.

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Rain, Telkom Mobile, lead in affordable data

A new report by the telecoms regulator in South Africa reveal the true consumer champions in mobile data costs

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The latest bi-annual tariff analysis report produced by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) reveals that Telkom Mobile data costs for bundles are two-thirds lower than those of Vodacom and MTN. On the other hand, Rain is half the price again of Telkom. 

The report focuses on the 163 tariff notifications lodged with ICASA during the period 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018.

“It seeks to ensure that there is retail price transparency within the electronic communications sector, the purpose of which is to enable consumers to make an informed choice, in terms of tariff plan preferences and/or preferred service providers based on their different offerings,” said Icasa.

ICASA says it observed the competitiveness between licensees in terms of the number of promotions that were on offer in the market, with 31 promotions launched during the period. 

The report shows that MTN and Vodacom charge the same prices for a 1GB and a 3GB data bundle at R149 and R299 respectively.  On the other hand, Telkom Mobile charges (for similar-sized data bundles) R100 (1GB) and R201 (3GB). Cell C discontinued its 1GB bundle, which was replaced with a 1.5GB bundle offered at the same price as the replaced 1GB data bundle at R149. 

Rain’s “One Plan Package” prepaid mobile data offering of R50 for a 1GB bundle remains the most affordable when compared to the offers from other MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators).  

“This development should have a positive impact on customers’ pockets as they are paying less compared to similar data bundles and increases choice,” said Icasa.

The report also revealed that the cost of out-of-bundle data had halved at both MTN and Vodacom, from 99c per Megabyte a year ago to 49c per Megabyte in the first quarter of this year. This was still two thirds more expensive than Telkom Mobile, which has charged 29c per Megabyte throughout this period (see graph below).

Meanwhile, from having positioned itself as consumer champion in recent years, Cell C has fallen on hard times, image-wise: it is by far the most expensive mobile network for out-of-bundle data, at R1.10 per Megabyte. Its prices have not budged in the past year.

The report highlights the disparities between the haves and have-nots in the dramatically plummeting cost of data per Megabyte as one buys bigger and bigger bundles on a 30-day basis (see graph below).

For 20 Gigabyte bundles, all mobile operators are in effect charging 4c per Megabyte. Only at that level do costs come in at under Rain’s standard tariffs regardless of use.

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Qualcomm wins 5G as Apple and Intel cave in

A flurry of announcements from three major tech players ushered in a new mobile chip landscape, wrItes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Last week’s shock announcement by Intel that it was canning its 5G modem business leaves the American market wide open to Qualcomm, in the wake of the latter winning a bruising patent war with Apple.

Intel Corporation announced its intention to “exit the 5G smartphone modem business and complete an assessment of the opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, internet of things devices and other data-centric devices”.

Intel said it would also continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business, sharpening its focus on a market expected to be dominated by Huawei, Nokia and Ericsson.

Intel said it would continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line, but did not expect to launch 5G modem products in the smartphone space, including those originally planned for launches in 2020. In other words, it would no longer be supplying chips for iPhones and iPads in competition with Qualcomm.

“We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘cloudification’ of the network, but in the smartphone modem business it has become apparent that there is no clear path to profitability and positive returns,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan. “5G continues to be a strategic priority across Intel, and our team has developed a valuable portfolio of wireless products and intellectual property. We are assessing our options to realise the value we have created, including the opportunities in a wide variety of data-centric platforms and devices in a 5G world.”

The news came immediately after Qualcomm and Apple issued a joint announced of an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm, along with a six-year license agreement, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple had previously accused Qualcomm of abusing its dominant position in modem chips for smartphones and charging excessive license fees. It ordered its contract manufacturers, first, to stop paying Qualcomm for the chips, and then to stop using the chips altogether, turning instead to Intel.
With Apple paying up and Intel pulling out, Qualcomm is suddenly in the pound seats. It shares hit their highest levels in five years after the announcements.

Qualcomm said in a statement: “As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio.”

Meanwhile, Strategy Analytics released a report on the same day that showed Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia will lead the market in core 5G infrastructure, namely Radio Access Network (RAN) equipment, by 2023 as the 5G market takes off. Huawei is expected to have the edge as a result of the vast scale of the early 5G market in China and its long term steady investment in R&D. According to a report entitled “Comparison and 2023 5G Global Market Potential for leading 5G RAN Vendors – Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia”, two outliers, Samsung and ZTE, are expected to expand their global presence alongside emerging vendors as competition heats up.

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