Higher ed employees stay connected to their university networks from anywhere and everywhere, including their classrooms, offices, homes and throughout campus. That means IT departments need to be able to protect that network and those employees no matter where they are.
A major piece of that defense is mobile threat detection, such as that provided by the BlackBerry® Cyber Suite, which helps secure the ubiquitous mobile devices that increasingly are targets for cyberattackers.
Here’s what higher ed institutions need to know about the ongoing threats and what they can do about them.
Why Are Mobile Devices Such a Security Concern?
According to a report by cybersecurity company Check Point Software, cyberattacks on educational institutions are growing faster than any other sector. Because threat actors prefer the path of least resistance, mobile devices have become prime targets for cyberattackers because of their vulnerability.
“We’re pretty good at protecting our physical networks and our buildings,” says Alex Willis, vice president of sales engineering at BlackBerry. But mobile devices? “They’re everywhere, and they’re a lot easier to attack as a softer target.”
Several types of attacks, including malicious URLs sent via SMS text and downloaded malicious apps, work by exploiting mobile devices and users. Furthermore, people often forego critical security on their devices because they believe their smartphones wouldn’t be of interest to cybercriminals.
“They don’t see it as that much of a problem, not realizing that attackers don’t care about their personal conversations. They care about their credentials, how they can take them and use them on other systems,” says Willis.
DIG DEEPER: Here’s how to keep your mobile devices secure.
What Tools Are Available to Protect Against Mobile Cyberattacks?
As institutions move to bolster their protection, new measures are being adopted. Among the solutions they’re turning to is mobile device management, an all-encompassing security tool that enables IT teams to define, control and execute security frameworks for anything connected to a network. MDM can automate monitoring of a range of mobile devices, making it especially flexible to accommodate the bring-your-own-device policies that pervade campuses.
Because a certain amount of foresight goes into setting up MDM, it also promotes a healthy approach to assessing how an institution should move forward with security.
“MDM is like a roadmap,” says Willis. “It helps to do a security assessment, identify gaps and then start projects to fill the gaps.”
Mobile threat defense tools — an important component of MDM — are designed to detect threats to an organization’s data through mobile devices and protect them from those threats. Notably, MTDs can employ technologies such as artificial intelligence to proactively monitor for threats, whether that’s an unpatched vulnerability, malicious activity, poor device configuration or something else. Given the number of devices on campus now, this type of automation is critical to ensure higher education institutions stay safe, without draining IT resources.
What’s the difference, ultimately, between MDM and MTD? BlackBerry offers a useful summary:
“MDM provides a business with a means of defining, applying and enforcing security policies on mobile devices. The protection it offers against threats is mainly passive. A typical MDM tool cannot, for example, detect the presence of a malicious app on a user’s device … MTD does not provide policy enforcement or policy management. Instead, it actively detects threats and diagnoses vulnerabilities.”
LEARN MORE: Stay vigilant against these four emerging cybersecurity threats in higher ed.
How Can Companies Like BlackBerry Help?
Among the MTD tools available to schools is CylancePROTECT® Mobile from BlackBerry which provides comprehensive protection against mobile cyberattacks. Its capabilities include real-time malware protection, which draws on AI to detect and block threats in a uniquely proactive way.
“We do prevention first,” says Willis. “Rather than detonating malware in a sandbox or having to launch it and then see what it does, we can interrogate before execution. If it’s bad, we’ll quarantine it. If it’s good, we’ll continue to monitor.”
It all comes together to provide higher education institutions with the security they need to detect and prevent cyberattacks from compromising their valuable data and the safety of their students, faculty and staff.
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