Mobile malware grew three-fold last year

While some experts don’t buy that mobile malware is as big a threat as security vendors make it out to be, one thing is clear: As smartphones become more common, so will viruses and other security threats that attack them. 

As IT consumerization grows., most organizations are allowing users to bring personal smartphones to work, according to a recent survey from Goode Intelligence. More than 70% of organizations allow personal smartphones to be used for business, with 47% reporting that company data is held on those devices, according to the poll of 130 IT professionals.

While IT consumerization and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are becoming more popular because of the productivity and cost-saving benefits they can provide, there are also significant security risks companies must get ready for.

One of the big issues is the increasing prevalence of viruses and other malware that attacks mobile devices, which can potentially steal that company data and put it in the hands of cybercriminals. According to Goode Intelligence’s survey, 24% of IT pros saw evidence of malware infection on smartphones used for work in 2011. That’s almost three times as many as the 9% who reported seeing mobile malware in 2010.

Of course, some experts say the hype about mobile malware is overblown, blaming the increase in infections on the simple fact that there’s a rapidly growing number of devices to get infected. Essentially, there was no mobile malware a few years ago, so any increase at all will look huge.

However, as this survey shows, that doesn’t mean mobile malware isn’t a threat to organizations and their data. One way IT can help: Raise user awareness about the issue and teach people ways to prevent infections.

You can help get their attention by showing them how paying attention to smartphone security will help protect their own privacy, as well as the company.

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