'Madware' attacks expected to grow in 2013

  • January 21, 2013
  • Dan Ford

With bring your own device (BYOD) on its way to becoming mainstream, the enterprise mobile applications market could be in line for a major growth spurt in 2013.

"The space around enterprise apps and mobility is only just beginning to wake up," Daryl Raiford, CFO at Genband, recent told RCRWireless. "It is still small and ready to take off."

According to a recent study by Antenna Software, 43 percent of companies have already begun developing native mobile applications for customers. On the other hand, only 1 percent of organizations have started working on native apps for employees, although that number is expected to increase substantially in the near future.

Rajeev Chand, managing director of Rutberg & Company, told the news source that currently, mobile enterprise applications "are where consumer apps were three or four years ago." However, he said that he expects this market to "grow significantly" in 2013.

Problems increase
As enterprise mobility continues to grow, so too are threats to laptops, tablets and, especially, smartphones. According to a recent report by Business Insider, nearly half of all mobile applications are infected with pop-up ad malware, also known as madware.

"The problem is getting worse," Paul Ferguson, vice president of threat intelligence at internet security firm IID, recently told the source. "App developers and ad networks want to make money, and the screening to keep out malicious actors is not adequate."

The growing popularity of mobile applications has spurred an entirely new platform by which cybercriminals can launch their attacks. As a result, the last nine months alone have produced a 210 percent increase in madware, according to Symantec, infecting nearly half of all mobile applications.

According to the Business Insider article, these attacks typically result from free downloads, which sometimes require that users provide their locations and personal information. The madware attacks can appear in a variety of forms - as email alerts, pop-ups to calendar entries and as ringtones - and often provide hackers access to personal information.

With the vast majority of organizations allowing employees to use laptops, tablets and smartphones for work, madware, along with many other types of growing malware attacks, increasingly pose a threat to companies.

In my opinion, MDM software - particularly ​MDM solutions with​ MAM capabilities - currently offer the best solutions to this problem. However, because madware is so new, MDM is not a guarantee to work. Therefore, companies may want to emphasize employee education before allowing workers to practice BYOD.

About the Author

Dan Ford
Chief Security Officer
Dan has been an information security professional for more than 15 years, and has worked for notable organizations such as XM Radio, Secure Computing, McAfee, Nominum, and Accuvant. He has extensive experience running security programs within the government segment; his most notable role was as Director of Network Security at the Transportation and Security Administration, which was the largest managed service contract within the federal government. Dan joined Fixmo in 2012 to drive security and technology innovation within Fixmo's suite of Mobile Risk Management solutions.

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