A new report by Juniper Research suggests that cyber criminals are transitioning their focus from PCs onto mobile devices. The research shows that as BYOD (bring your own device) policies become more popular, the threat from unprotected employee mobile devices is becoming more important.

Juniper Research

The report, Mobile Security: BYOD, mCommerce, Consumer & Enterprise 2013-2018, predicts that the number of smartphones and tablets used by workers worldwide will exceed 1 billion by 2018, representing almost 35 percent of the total consumer base.

The research company said that organizations adopting BYOD strategy need to consider mobile devices as just another endpoint and need therefore to devise measures to mitigate the challenges and the risks of managing a multi-platform environment.

Juniper said that more than 80% of smartphones will remain unprotected through 2013, despite a steadily increasing consumer awareness of mobile security products.

The report indicates that nearly 1.3 billion mobile devices, including smartphones, featurephones and tablets, are expected to have mobile security software installed by 2018, up from around 325 million this year.

Juniper experts note that handsets might be lost or stolen and can be the cause of financial and privacy loss. Moreover, almost all malware threats are capable of damaging mobile devices or stealing the user’s personal information.

They added that both private and public sectors are now increasingly the target of different types of attackers; hackers, botnet operators, cyber-criminals, terrorists and even foreign governments.

Juniper said that the first three groups mainly attack for monetary gain, either by directly hacking the bank account of business segments, or by taking control of enterprise mobile devices to access sensitive business data, such as a business plan or corporate strategy. The other two groups may attack government security systems via mobile devices as part of their information gathering or espionage activities, thereby posing a direct threat to national security.