Why mobile security protection is a public necessity

Governments and local councils bear a responsibility to protect residents not only on the street, but also in the digital world, cautions Akhil Bhutani, Zimperium’s General Manager of APJ Business.

He explains that In an increasingly interconnected world, the rise of mobile devices has revolutionised the way people communicate, work and access information. Smartphones and tablets have become an integral part of our daily lives, empowering us with a wealth of capabilities and convenience.

However, with this growing reliance on mobile technology, the importance of mobile cybersecurity has evolved from being a public good to an absolute public necessity.

Mobile phones have become an indispensable part of our lives, and one of their defining characteristics is their ‘always on, always connected’ nature. This constant connectivity has profound implications for mobile cybersecurity, adding another layer of significance to its role as a public necessity.

Mobile cybersecurity has transitioned from being a public good to a public necessity in today’s digital age. The pervasive threat landscape, our increasing reliance on mobile devices, privacy concerns, mobile payment systems, IoT integration, and enterprise security are all demands that emphasise the crucial role of mobile cybersecurity.

Protecting our personal information, preserving privacy, and securing the digital infrastructure on which we depend are paramount. It is imperative for individuals, organisations, and governments to prioritise and invest in robust mobile cybersecurity measures to navigate the evolving threat landscape and ensure a safer digital future for all.

In Australia there are 17.9 million smartphones and more than three million internet-connected smart devices.

Organisations of all sizes still grapple with how to strengthen mobile security. This challenge is particularly pronounced in state and local government, where constituents are increasingly interfacing with government via digital channels.”

There are several network threats, including man-in-the-middle attacks, where someone could be listening in on your conversation. There are also a whole lot of application-oriented threats out there, but phishing is the key one that has emerged over the last year.

Given the small screen and people’s lack of awareness, a lot of people end up clicking on malicious links. My company’s research shows that the average user is 6-10 times more likely to fall for an SMS phishing attack than an email-based attack.”

Based on what we’ve seen this year, Sydney and Melbourne have been hit hardest by Rogue Wi-Fi Networks. Malicious applications and phishing-related mobile security threats pose a range of security issues.

There was an overall 2.8x increase in mobile threats across Australia from 2022-2023, but there was a notably large increase of malicious apps in Adelaide and Perth. Paired with an explosion of phishing-related threats across Queensland, these pose a range of security threats.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) two-thirds of Australians aged 15 years and over were exposed to a scam in 2021-2022, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

William Milne, ABS head of crime and justice statistics, said: “The results of the personal fraud survey showed that 65 percent of people received a scam offer or request in 2021-2022, up from 55 percent in the previous year.

People were most commonly exposed to a scam over the phone (48 percent) or by text message (47 percent), with exposure via text message doubling from 23 percent in 2020-2021 to 47 percent in 2021-2022.

Mr Milne added that about one-third reported to a bank or financial institution, which remains the most common authority scams. However, we have recently seen a notable increase in reporting to the police, up from 8.2 percent in 2020-2021 to 14 percent in 2021-2022.

Australians lost $3.1 billion to scams in 2022 according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Zimperium’s mobile threat team said many mobile users struggle with cyber hygiene for their mobile devices. Most devices either do not have the latest security updates or cannot be upgraded due to hardware limitations. With a barrage of OS and app updates every day, it’s almost impossible to keep everything up to date.