Cybersecurity threats pose an increasing problem for mobile devices. Here’s everything you need to know about mobile security investing.
Over the last decade, the number of people using tablets and mobile devices over desktop computers has increased at a staggering rate. That means when they browse the web, people are spending more time on their handheld devices than sitting in front of a computer.
Because of this, cybersecurity risks on mobile devices are also on the rise. By 2025, Cybersecurity Ventures expects that Wi-Fi and mobile devices will amount to roughly 80 percent of IP traffic.
The firm also states that a major security threat for companies is employees using their own devices for corporate matters; this is especially problematic if workers have free apps on their devices, as they often spy on users. With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to an increase in remote work, these cybersecurity threats are only expected to increase further as time goes on.
“Threat actors have been seeking new mobile infection vectors, improving their techniques to bypass security protections and place malicious apps in official application stores,” states a 2020 cybersecurity report from Check Point Software Technologies (NASDAQ:CHKP).
“In another innovative attack, threat actors used a large international corporation’s Mobile Device Management system to distribute malware to more than 75 percent of its managed mobile devices.”
As the use of handheld devices increases and security threats to these tech gadgets rise in tandem, here the Investing News Network provides a brief overview of mobile security investing.
What is mobile security?
Mobile security works the same as cybersecurity software does on desktop computers: It protects from harmful threats aimed at smartphones, tablets and other portable devices that connect to the internet.
That said, according to Norton, when a smartphone device gets hacked, it isn’t just tied to the phone; it can spread onto a desktop if the smartphone is backed up onto a computer.
The company identifies common mobile threats as the following:
- Madware and spyware: Madware is a script or a program installed onto a phone, often through downloading a free mobile app, that collects data for advertising purposes. Spyware is often linked to madware and collects internet usage, location and contact data to provide to a third party.
- Viruses and trojans: These are often linked to what might look like a legitimate program or website. Viruses and trojans can gain access to devices and the information users enter into them, including sensitive details such as banking information.
- Drive-by downloads: This is a method of installing malware without a user needing to consent to downloading files. Visiting a suspicious website or opening the wrong kind of email can open a person up to a drive-by download, resulting in the automatic installation of malware.
- Browser exploits: Browser exploits simply take advantage of known security flaws in mobile internet browsers, as well as programs such as Flash and PDF readers. Once breached, browser settings, homepages and search tools can be altered, among other things.
- Phishing apps: These apps are designed to look like legitimate apps, but are instead copies of popular apps with the goal of receiving information that users enter into forms.
So how are these kinds of harmful attacks kept at bay?
Preventative measures range from: keeping software updated, internet security for mobile devices, firewall protection (yes — even for mobile devices), having a secure password on your phone and downloading apps only from official app stores.
Mobile security market outlook
Looking ahead to the future, it’s clear that cybersecurity threats aren’t going away anytime soon.
According to Market Research Future, the mobile security market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 29.55 percent in the next few years to reach US$48.85 billion by 2023.
Fueling that growth will be rising demand for data protection on enterprise mobile devices, as well as the use of mobile devices for banking and e-commerce. The growing number of people using personal devices has also led to increased use of mobile security, particularly in organizations and the workplace.
Adding to that, Allied Market Research is even more optimistic and projects that the mobile security market will reach a staggering US$122.89 billion by 2027. The report attributes that growth to an increase in online mobile payments and a rise in employers using their own mobile devices for work.
“Furthermore, growth in usage of machine learning and artificial intelligence in mobile security application is expected to provide lucrative opportunity for the market,” states the report.
Ways to invest in mobile security
There are a slew of public companies putting forth their best cybersecurity and mobile security efforts to tackle the issues at hand. A few major mobile security companies are listed below and may be a good place to begin; all had market caps well above US$1 billion at the time of publication.
- Check Point Software Technologies: Check Point Software Technologies is classified as part of the unified threat management sector, and it offers numerous products to protect users on mobile, networks and the cloud. It also provides users with various security management services to prevent future cyber attacks and data breaches.
- Trend Micro (OTC Pink:TMICY,TSE:4704): Trend Micro’s services and security software are for PCs and mobile devices. It also provides server, cloud and small business security.
- VMware (NYSE:VMW): VMware is a data solutions company that also provides a wide range of security services under its networking and security product platform, including NSX, NSX Cloud, AppDefense and vRealize Network Insight.
- Zscaler (NASDAQ:ZS): Zscaler sends all mobile and app traffic to its security cloud, targeting any attacks or malicious content. Zscaler applies SSL inspection for any hidden malware and has the capacity to process over 60 billion transactions during busy periods.
In sum, there’s no ignoring cybersecurity and mobile security threats as the shift to handheld devices continues. There are a growing number of companies that are keen to rise to the challenge of protecting individuals and businesses, and investors who want to get in on this trend have plenty of options to consider when building out their portfolios.
This is an updated version of an article originally published by the Investing News Network in 2018.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Melissa Pistilli, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.