Security

CYBR650 Blog #4: Smartphones- Smart or Not?

Smartphones have had a tremendous impact on people due to how they make life easier, such as having access to email, the Internet, calendars, and primary phone features like texting and calls; these are tools we had to use multiple devices to access in the past. Now, we have everything on a device that can fit in a pocket and is getting smaller and smarter every day. Having access to just the Internet, for example, vastly expands your knowledge base if you use it correctly. You can instantly get a detailed how-to video on YouTube or even work on a Word document while on the go. Not to mention, all the apps people create ranging from bar-code scanners, video chat services, rangefinders, to even apps to weigh things using your touchscreen; these show the high effectiveness and usefulness of a smartphone when applied correctly to any given situation, because of the simple fact that you are as intelligent as the tools you use.

However, there are definite drawbacks to the smartphone; it has become such an essential piece of equipment in all our daily lives that we are way too dependent on it. Spoken words between humans are becoming a thing of the past with the amount of texting and social media interfaces that we all use now. Texting while driving is such a dangerous occurrence that you hear about the tragedies it causes daily. It might seem harmless to just quickly glance at your phone while driving; however, the minimal amount of time your attention is not on the road is 5 seconds, which is plenty of time for something horrible to happen. Another way smartphones negatively impact us is an invasion of our privacy. Many apps and websites use GPS location services that can detect where you are and where you have been. Companies like Verizon sell their numbers to the government so that they can track your text and call usage if you are on a “hot list.”  Having access to various programs, apps, forms of communication, and other tools from a smartphone can offer a significant amount of usefulness to your life, but at what cost?

Speaking from a cybersecurity perspective, smartphones have a long list of potential security problems, including data leaks, improperly configured Wi-Fi settings, phishing attacks, spyware, malicious apps, weak password policies, out-of-date software, and identity theft. To make matters worse, for organizations that utilize BYOD policies, relying on employees to adequately protect their devices often leads to disaster. As the IoT grows, more devices are added to the networks that we cybersecurity professionals are tasked with securing, thus making our jobs much more challenging.

As a lover of social engineering, I find smartphones to be a double-edged sword of a device, granting me the tools I need to effectively gather intel on a target thanks to social media posts and selfies and perform investigative procedures while on the go; at the same time, these benefits to social engineers can be used against me as well. Living in a world that is so connected leads me to carefully select what data I want on the Internet, what I wish to post on social media, what apps I download, and what passwords and authentication measures I want to utilize; these, however, are not commonly shared beliefs.

Every day, we hear about new attacks on both individuals and organizations that could have been easily avoided; more often than not, smartphones had some part in their operation. In the future, we as a society need to understand the power in our palms, the potential problems that can occur, and how to secure the data we sent to our robotic overloads. Now, more than ever, do our actions on the Internet directly reflect upon ourselves and the companies we work with. If nothing is done soon regarding improving security on mobile devices, the little privacy we currently have will quickly be eliminated.

Many of our cybersecurity forefathers led the charge in securing the networks, hardware, systems, and software they managed, yet the evolving technological landscape is quickly changing; the protective blankets they engineered are now not large enough to cover all the new IoT devices that also require safeguards. I feel that the future of cybersecurity hangs on a thread, and this thread is seemingly expanding every day, yet never getting stronger. Hopefully, AI and cloud security can overcome the difficult path we have in front of us, yet I do not think that we will ever get ahead of the threats in the digital realm regarding mobile devices. After all, when speaking about the users we manage, we cannot fix stupid.

I view smartphones as a fantastic tool that can make life easier, but as with almost every advance in technology, humans rely on the devices that we use in our daily lives, with often no consideration of how the technology really works. It is pretty easy to see a future where humans do not even exert any physical activity due to having everything they could possibly need at their fingertips, similar to the movie WALL-E. Even now, by just using a computer or smartphone, you can order groceries, schedule an appointment for your doctor, file for divorce, and buy anything and have it delivered right to you. So, in conclusion, as with every piece of technology we have, the drawbacks and improvements it makes in your life depend entirely on how you use it. So, is a smartphone smart? I believe the better question is how intelligent is the person holding it?

References

Nelson, B. (2021, January 23). Top security threats of SMARTPHONES (2021). Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://www.rd.com/article/mobile-security-threats/.

Raphael, J. (2021, March 01). 8 mobile security threats you should take seriously. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://www.csoonline.com/article/3241727/8-mobile-security-threats-you-should-take-seriously.html.

Categories: Security

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