What Is Mobile Device Security?

A cybersecurity professional working on a tablet in a server room.

Nearly every American owns a mobile device. Most businesses use mobile devices in their daily operations. Devices like smartphones and tablets contain sensitive information, and they often connect with multiple networks to share data. Unauthorized access to mobile devices puts that information at risk — and leaves networks vulnerable.

Mobile device security threats continue to grow. Malware can infect smartphones and grant access to private networks. Hackers can manipulate users with phishing schemes that put personal data at risk. At the same time, cybersecurity professionals race to stay one step ahead of cyberattackers.

What is mobile device security? How do malicious actors exploit mobile vulnerabilities? And how do cybersecurity professionals secure mobile devices? By understanding digital security risks, users can protect themselves.

Mobile Device Security Definition

Mobile device security is a critical component of cybersecurity. Security tools protect private data on smartphones and other mobile devices. By securing mobile devices, users can also protect the networks that connect devices. Computers, printers, servers and smartphones are all endpoints, or entry points for networks. But smartphones pose unique vulnerabilities when it comes to network security.

In addition to securing smartphones, mobile device users must also consider the security of individual applications. Mobile apps share data with third parties, and security flaws in apps can leave devices vulnerable to attacks.

Mobile Device Security Threats

Hackers target mobile devices through malicious software, scams and other methods. These security threats leave users vulnerable.

The top mobile device security threats include:

  • Malware. Malware is malicious software that can access private networks and data. Users may unknowingly download malware to mobile devices by clicking on unsecure links.
  • Ransomware. Ransomware, a type of malware, encrypts files on mobile devices so cyberattackers can extort a ransom from device users.
  • Phishing. Phishing scams trick users into providing personal identifying information. Cyberattackers often use emails or text messages to lure their targets into providing sensitive data.
  • Spyware. Spyware collects data from infected mobile devices, including location data and credit card information.

Threats to mobile devices continue to evolve, as hackers develop new techniques to break into devices and networks. As a result, users need to follow best practices for securing their mobile devices.

Why Is Mobile Device Security Important?

Mobile device security protects sensitive data. Users often access sensitive financial and personal information on smartphones. For example, banking apps contain account numbers, while e-commerce apps store addresses and credit card information.

Businesses also put their networks at risk when they fail to secure mobile endpoints. If corporations allow employees to connect their personal mobile devices to company networks, it increases the risk. Hackers can use the device to infiltrate networks with malware.

Security breaches leave individuals vulnerable to identity theft and financial damage. Businesses can also experience compromised data, system disruptions and financial loss.

Challenges and Benefits of Mobile Device Security

Securing mobile devices like smartphones poses several challenges. For one, mobile devices offer a target-rich environment for cybercriminals. Attackers can target mobile apps, trap users with phishing scams, or extract money with ransomware.

The wide variety of mobile devices also increases the difficulty of establishing security. In addition to smartphones using different operating systems, mobile devices include a variety of products including smartwatches, portable gaming consoles and e-readers.

However, prioritizing mobile device security also offers major benefits. Securing smartphones protects sensitive data. Preventing cyberattacks means users can avoid the disruptions caused by identity theft or data breaches. Some organizations, in fact, are mandated to implement mobile security plans to remain compliant with regulations.

Securing mobile devices requires attention to both device security measures and user best practices. Individuals and organizations must implement security configurations such as passwords or biometric authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Security software also protects devices from breaches.

Users must also understand the best security practices for mobile devices. For example, using public Wi-Fi can put smartphones at risk. Companies can also implement security practices to prevent employees from downloading malicious software or putting corporate data at risk.

How Cybersecurity Professionals Keep Mobile Devices Secure

Mobile device security starts with understanding the threats. Because cyberattackers constantly search for vulnerabilities, cybersecurity professionals must keep their knowledge and skills current. Organizations rely on IT professionals to protect their data and secure networks. For example, an information security manager is a specialized employee who is dedicated to overseeing device and network security.

Cybersecurity professionals secure mobile devices using the following techniques and strategies.

  • Software updates. Keeping software updated, including mobile operating systems, protects devices from unauthorized access. In addition to updating operating systems, users should consider security software.
  • Endpoint security. Many organizations allow remote access to their network. Endpoint security tracks the potential threat posed by mobile devices connected to the network. These programs monitor devices to quickly identify threats.
  • Email security. Cyberattackers often spread malware via email. Securing email systems involves detecting threats to prevent breaches. Encryption is a key tool in email security.
  • Cloud security. Individuals and organizations increasingly access cloud-based tools through mobile devices. As a result, cloud security is a key component of securing mobile devices. Secure web gateways and club access security brokers can prevent data loss.

Demand for mobile security professionals continues to grow. Those considering a career change to cybersecurity can take advantage of the need for expertise in mobile device security.

Launch Your Career in Mobile Device Security with a Master’s in Information Security Management from Augusta University Online

Cybersecurity professionals need cutting-edge skills to protect mobile devices and networks. Augusta University Online offers a Master of Science in Information Security Management that prepares graduates to combat and prevent cyber-related risks.

During the program, master’s students explore security policy deployment, risk management, and human factors in information security. The program provides targeted skills and knowledge that can lead to satisfying careers in mobile security management.

Learn more about how you can get started with AU Online today.

Recommended Readings
5 Research Topics in Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity Career Paths
How to Make a Career Change to Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity ASEE, “Top 15 Mobile Device Security Best Practices for Businesses in 2023”
Federal Communications Commission, 10 Steps to Smartphone Security
Forbes, “Mobile Device Security: Tips For Leaders On Protecting The Workplace”
IBM, “What Is Mobile Security?”
National Cybersecurity Council of Excellence, Mobile Device Security
Multimedia Tools and Applications, “The Current State and Future of Mobile Security in the Light of the Recent Mobile Security Threat Reports”
Verizon, “2023 Data Breach Investigations Report”

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