Is danger looming: Mobile vulnerabilities
Is danger looming: Mobile vulnerabilities

Safeguard that tablet and smartphone, say industry analysts, or face imminent threat. Lucas Rivera reports.

While countless cyber criminals continue to wage war in the traditional realms of the internet, launching SQL injections, trojans and denial-of-service attacks, many industry analysts say a new tier needing protection has developed – tablets and smartphones – since these so-called consumer devices now also face endless threats from would-be cyber attackers.

While there has been a tremendous effort to secure traditional computers, today, mobile platforms are going through the same growing pains, says Bob Flores (below), founder and president of Applicology, a Vienna, Va.-based independent consulting firm specializing in cyber security. He also has more than three decades of experience working at the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served in the Directorate of Intelligence, Directorate of Support and National Clandestine Service. 

Flores says that as businesses move more toward conducting their business over mobile platforms, they face a greater danger from nefarious cyber criminals. “Especially when you get into open systems, such as the Android,” he says. “There is a tremendous advantage to having an open platform, but it also makes it easier to hack.”

There has already been a paradigm shift from the internet to mobile platforms, he says. “I liken it to the state of the internet when it was young,” he says. “The internet was built for connectivity. Very few people thought the internet would become the super highway for information, outside of government and universities.”

He says mobile technology will generate countless partnerships and merger-and-acquisition activity in the coming years, so the makers of future mobile devices need to figure out ways to better secure them. 

“That is why Intel purchased McAfee,” he says. “They wanted to start embedding security at the chip level. The intent is to take the security features and build them into the Intel chips.”

Developers, he says, have got to get security down to its most fundamental basics possible. The challenge with all this is that there are now so many manufacturers of these products all trying to write to certain standards so the devices can all communicate with each other.

He adds that security requires vigilance on the part of any company's upper management. “What's important with security is that it requires an ongoing budget,” he says. “When you realize people can pick the lock on your fence, then you get a better lock.”

What's to stop these new threats? A number of industry observers point to the need for policies and regulations, and strict adherence to them.