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Sixty percent of mobile devices in enterprise environments are vulnerable to known threats. Any single attack can result in a security breach, compromising an organization’s assets, data, and brand. Nevertheless, as cybercrime increases, many companies still remain unprepared and mobile security often falls through the cracks, especially with so many players involved in the mobile infrastructure.

If you live in an unsafe neighborhood, where you and your family feel at risk, what do you do? If possible, move to another location. This fundamental principle holds true when it comes to choosing what mobile operator to implement in an organization. No matter where the vulnerability or security flaw takes place, the blame and customer support burden often fall back on the mobile operator. As a result, it is vital for mobile operators to ensure their customers are secure.

However, security has not always been top of mind for mobile operators. The main focus is often on getting users more coverage, increasing bandwidth and creating new differentiated offerings. While those factors remain important, the increased focus on security overall means security is also rising to a higher priority for mobile operators. Here are three key steps that mobile operators need to take to better secure consumers, enterprises, and employees:

  1. Secure their own infrastructure. Real protection means securing each step of the process, from the cell towers and WiFi networks devices connect to, all the way to the databases holding payment and billing data. The main issue is that many mobile operators still use support systems architected in the early 1990s, but the mobile ecosystem is evolving and operators need to evolve with it. Certain infrastructure attacks can cause network outages or steal customer information, increasing costs and resulting in revenue loss, customer dissatisfaction, and brand damage.
     
  2. Protect the devices with a mobile security solution. Given the current mobile landscape, it is clear that mobile devices themselves are increasingly the targets of attacks. The list of device exploits like Stagefright, Gooligan, Pegasus, and AirDroid grows every day, and against all operating systems on every mobile network. Man-in-the-middle, rogue access points, and other network-based attacks are being seen every day, around the world. Take the SS7 flaws mobile network hackers exploited to drain bank accounts, for example. By intercepting two-factor authentication codes sent to online banking customers, hackers were able to empty their accounts. Additionally, discoveries of millions of malicious apps are found in third party and even official app stores every year. These threats aren't going away anytime soon, so it’s vital that mobile operators offer a mobile threat defense solution to their customers. To ensure customers on Android and iOS devices stay secure, operators can partner with mobile security companies that offer continuous, real-time cyber threat protection for both mobile devices and applications.
     
  3. Educate the salesforce. Highlighting to the sales team security’s value add and importance is key. If users don’t understand the reasoning behind securing their device or updating their smartphone as soon as patches are released, then they probably won’t make it a priority. Most mobile operator sales teams are not equipped with the knowledge and tools to help explain it to their customers. Sales teams need to put an emphasis on the operator’s security strengths so that organizations can understand the value and relay the same message to their employees. Having top-notch security will become a major sales driver for mobile operators, but if they don’t understand the security themselves or fully grasp the need for it, the message will never get out and consumers will be blind to potential risks.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether an attack occurred against the infrastructure or an end user’s device – mobile operators must commit to making every effort to secure their customers. Fortunately, there are steps, as outlined above, that operators can take to ensure they keep their customers as secure as possible. When partners across the ecosystem work together to prioritize security, both consumers and organizations alike will reap the benefits.

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