With Ericsson announcing that global data traffic has overtaken voice traffic for the first time, mobile security expert AdaptiveMobile has issued a stark reminder to mobile users to remain vigilant when using mobile data services on their phones or via mobile broadband dongles.
“The rise of the smartphone has brought about a revolution in the way we use our phones,” said Simeon Coney, VP Business development, AdaptiveMobile. “Whereas two years ago it was all about voice and text, these days our mobile handset is about so much more than that; it’s an extension of our connection to internet content, services and applications and for many users is more immediate than the laptop or PC. Unfortunately this upsurge in mobile data usage brings with it the demands of traffic types often not anticipated by the network.
For mature markets, these risks are often associated with cost, commented Coney. He said users often remain unaware of the levels of background data access their handset and PC applications are demanding, experiencing a shock when roaming charges are later presented for services such as media or podcast synchronisation or application and OS updates. For example, Coney said his company frequently measures that ‘Windows Updates’ is the most commonly accessed destination on many mobile networks due to the success of netbooks and mobile broadband packages.
Coney added: “In emerging markets there are also additional risks. With many users being new to the mobile Web, many are unaware of the potential security threats they face when browsing or emailing. Users of PCs or laptops are typically conditioned to be suspicious of unusual links and keep their guard up against viruses and phishing – it’s become second nature. However, as the mobile phone is such a personal device people have grown too trusting when it comes to the content they receive. Unfortunately, AdaptiveMobile measures many requests in networks where people are attempting to visit high-risk content – whether it be spam, phishing or fraud. If you see a link which appears to be from someone you know on your mobile, many users would click on it without out a second thought.
“In both mature and emerging markets data traffic is also driven by infections on devices, where uncontrolled spam is sent out from mobile data-enabled PC’s. This results in the operators public IP reputation being damaged – ultimately leading to service failure for subscribers,” he continued. “This increase in demand for mobile data has however opened up new opportunities for the mobile operators – to provide protection for their subscribers and networks whilst delivering business value and generating new upsell revenue for their network.”