By Yaniv Sulkes
It is clear that the way mobile users share, interact and consume information is changing. It is also clear that cybercriminals are taking notice.
According to ComScore’s 2016 U.S. Cross-Platform Future in Focus, nearly 80 percent of all social media time is spent on mobile. In addition, smartphone app usage makes up close to half of all time spent on digital media, while consumers are accelerating their use of mobile devices for shopping and banking. Additionally, sports fans are increasingly viewing games on their mobile devices and talking about teams and athletes on social media.
With the explosion of mobile activity has come a greater focus by cybercriminals on mobile platforms. In fact, mobile malware infections nearly doubled in the first half of 2016 over the second half of 2015, according to the latest stats from Nokia.
We’ve identified a common theme throughout our Mobile Trends reports: There is a direct correlation between the way people behave with mobile devices and the risk for malware infection. Unfortunately, about only half of mobile users take advantage of security products on their devices.
Users hold the mobile malware key
For example, in the recently-published Mobile Users at Risk report, business users show the riskiest online behavior, with 79 percent of businessmen and 67 percent of businesswomen using potentially risky apps every day.
Young people, especially Millennials, are also at high risk, with close to two-thirds using potentially risky apps every day. While mobile app downloads are often protected, the way users interact with the app is not protected, leaving consumers vulnerable to malware threats.
And in the How Major Sports Events Put Mobile Users at Risk report [opens a PDF], we discovered that nearly half of sporting event-driven mobile fans engage in online behaviors that are at high potential risk for malware. Moreover, the total number of mobile sports fans at risk for malware more than doubled during major sporting events. Increased activity in online sports betting and social networking are major contributors to cyber risk. During major sporting events, the percentage of sports fans using social media apps or sites also tripled over their pre-event activity, showing a direct link between social media activity and risk for malware.
How can CSPs help?
To combat malware threats, safeguarding mobile users at the network level is the most effective method for protecting against multiple types of mobile threats because the security measures can provide a protective umbrella for all online activity.
Communication service providers (CSPs) are well positioned to provide protection to consumers and businesses. They have an excellent opportunity to not only increase subscriber loyalty by teaching them about cyber and malware risk, but also protect them by offering value-added security services that also open up new lines of revenue.
So how can CSPs help customers improve and maintain steady security health?
Here are a few ways to do this:
• Try and buy: Target at-risk customers with limited time offers to try network-based anti-malware protection. After the trial period, customers can either choose to opt out or begin paying for the service.
• Enriching experience: Bundle security services with high-definition streaming and bandwidth packages designed specifically for a big sporting event or other popular mobile viewing event.
• Top-shelf protection: Offer a top-of-the-line mix of anti-malware, anti-phishing, and ad blocker services to high-risk customers.
These options should come standard with service engagement that includes daily updates about apps and web pages that are blocked due to security risk so customers can better understand the value they are getting. CSPs can also send notifications if certain subscribers demonstrate a sudden increase in risky behavior, warning them of potential threats.
CSPs are uniquely positioned to educate customers about malware risks and to offer network-based security services to protect mobile devices and improve the bottom line. Service providers should jump on the opportunity to use any major mobile viewing event to onboard new customers with value-added security services. Doing so could help keep the breadth of attacks down across the board.
About Yaniv Sulkes
As a telecommunications professional, Yaniv has designed, developed, produced and marketed industry-leading solutions for over 14 years. He served as Allot’s Director of Product Management in the Americas after gaining experience within product management and marketing.