Rethinking Computing In 2013

2012 has come and gone, and with it we’ve seen one of the most disruptive trends in computing reach a critical mass – global adoption of mobile, internet-connected devices. This trend is great for people and business worldwide. It means connectivity. It means new customers. It also however, means more data and more attackers trying to steal it with malware. Our most recent Quarterly Threat Report shows over 100 million total malware samples as active in the wild, and mobile malware jumping up 400% from five thousand to 20 thousand samples in one year[1]. We anticipate this growth to continue, and there is evidence to prove it.

Hackers tend to spend less time on platforms that have a smaller user base, so they can blanket a larger set of users with their attacks. For years, mobile was a minority platform. In 2012 however, this changed forever. India, in May, became the first country where mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the entire country[2]. All signs point to the rest of the world following right behind. The U.S. for example, experienced 50% YoY growth in smartphone users, reaching 172 million. China also experienced 50% growth, but trumped U.S. subscribers at a total base of 270 million. Total world smartphone subscribers: 1.14 billion[3].

Mobile officially stepped out of the minority in 2012. It’s not just Apple behind this growth either- Google’s Android platform has grown at nearly 6x that of the iPhone over the 16 quarters since its launch[4]. Normally, I wouldn’t make a distinction between mobile software platforms – they all help connect the world no matter the OS. Unfortunately, the majority of mobile malware is currently found on the Android platform. With explosive growth, the world needs to prepare for this new platform as a point of entry for attackers seeking valuable information.

Smartphones and tablet computers are going to reshape the way we interact with the internet and our information – it’s easy to see how they have already. Stepping into 2013, it’s time to reimagine not just how we work and consume media, but how we view these devices. Gone are the days when a mobile device was only a phone. Now, to our benefit, we have pervasive connectivity not only to people, but to information as well. It’s important that we realize the impact of this change, and take action to protect our information wherever it resides.

In a business environment, the mobile device can create significant vulnerability. Whether a smartphone, tablet, or off-network laptop – likely these devices were not kept in mind when designing the corporate network. Data can be lost. Devices can get infected. Security policies set in place are often bypassed entirely, opening up new holes to network infrastructure. This does not have to be the reality.

Just as advances in mobile technology have connected the world, security technology continues to evolve to bring these devices into the organization securely. With advanced Web Security, devices can be protected on and off network, access to the cloud can be controlled, data loss to cloud applications averted – all encompassing an evolved set of policies that protect businesses in the new reality of computing. Stay safe in 2013. Learn more about our any-device approach to Web Security here.

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