Mobile security added to National Cyber Security Awareness Month
For the first time, the topic of mobile security has been added to the agenda of the annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month running ten years this month.
While the Department of Homeland Security, the government sponsor of the campaign, had to pull out of the kick-off ceremony on Tuesday, the other sponsors are moving ahead with events, Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance, told FierceMobileIT.
Other sponsors of the month-long campaign include the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center and the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.
Kaiser said the NCSA decided to tackle the topic of mobile security because of the rise in mobile threats and the increasing use of mobile devices at work.
"Mobile is not just about the smartphone or the tablet. It is really about how we all connect on the go. So it is also how to stay safe when you travel. It's about the security of the Wi-Fi connection you are using," Kaiser observed.
With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, the "threat and risk surfaces are continually changing. People appear not to be adopting all of the security measures they should. For example, between 30 percent and 50 percent of people with smartphones do not use a PIN or passcode to secure their phones. So we see low levels of adoption of basic security measures that people need to put in place," Kaiser related.
"We also see lots of folks connecting to unsecure Wi-Fi networks – ones that don't require any type of authentication or password protection. So we have to do more education awareness," he added.
Kaiser's view about the growing mobile threats jives with recent studies that have found a recent explosion in mobile malware. As we reported earlier, the rise in mobile malware, especially targeting Android smartphones, has become a disturbing trend.
For example, FortiGuard Labs found a 30 percent increase in mobile malware in the first half of 2013 with more than 1,300 new samples appearing every day; the lab is tracking over 250,000 unique Android malware samples. In addition, Trend Micro found that the number of Android malware apps increased to 750,000 in the second quarter--up from 509,000 in the first quarter.
Kaiser admitted that the federal government shutdown is impacting events for the month, particularly participation by DHS officials. "If the shutdown continues for an extended period of time, we will continue to lose our federal participation in things that are important to us. We are sad about that. Cybersecurity is a public-private partnership," he said.