Subtle signs an employee’s smartphone has been hacked

Cybersecurity breaches CSC Blogs

Any IT professional will tell you that the biggest threat to enterprise mobile security is mobile users.

Even if you create and communicate explicit mobile security policies and best practices, even if you provide instructions on how to improve their security posture, too many of those enterprise users just don’t listen!

What may be even worse — and more dangerous to the enterprise — is when an employee’s lack of security awareness results in them not knowing that their devices have been hacked. Devices with malware can leak data undetected for weeks, months or even years.

Rather than consider a potential breach, some employees will conclude that poor device performance, for example, is the result of a spotty network or WiFi connection or even aging hardware.

So what are the signs that a mobile device has been hacked?

InformationWeek Associate Editor Kelly Sheridan has put together a slide show of five ways to tell. At the very least, this list is useful for IT security pros who want to pass along yet more advice for employees to ignore. (Is that too cynical?)

Short battery life

One performance symptom that would fly under the radar of the typical mobile employee is increasingly poor battery life. Most users might ascribe battery drain to too many legitimate apps running in the background on their device (which may also be true).

Hot device

Another possible sign of a hacked phone is excessive heat, which could be caused by a malicious app that generates a lot of traffic.

Mystery apps

Mysterious apps the user doesn’t remember downloading can also indicate that a smartphone or tablet has been hacked. This is a case of hackers taking advantage of how casually users download apps, many of which they don’t even remember downloading. Since users can have dozens of apps on their smartphones, these malicious apps can hide in plain sight.

You can read about the other signs in Kelly’s slide show, but the bottom line is that hackers are as aware as IT security pros that the best way to penetrate a network is through users who disregard basic security measures, which is a longer way of saying “users.”

The only thing IT pros can do is keep things tight on their end, communicate security policies and tips and hope for the best.

RELATED LINKS

6 keys to enterprise mobile security

Mobile security best practices only work if you, well, practice them

CEO fraud: With billions lost, is your organization at risk?

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