Mobiles, mobile security to dominate IT priorities in 2013

By GovTechReview Staff
Thursday, 15 November, 2012

The annual rush of industry predictions for the new year is trickling in – and if early signs are anything to go by, 2013 will be all about keeping up with the mobile chaos we've created in 2012.

A survey of 302 companies by Jabra and Frost and Sullivan, announced today, has found that unified communications will be a driver for efficiency amongst organisations looking to empower workers. Many – 30% of workers, by this survey – will continue to use personal smartphones for business purposes, while 55% of workers were already using tablet devices at work.

IT managers will adopt a range of strategies for dealing with these devices, ranging from a dedicated IT helpdesk (named by 48% of respondents) and training sessions (42%) to self-help literature, used by 32%. Generating buy-in from employees was considered far more important (49%) than buy-in from management (29%).

Security vendor Websense, for its part, offered seven security predictions for 2013 (register to download) and  fingered mobile devices as the top target for cross-platform threats. Unsurprisingly, Windows 8, Android and iOS will be the top three mobile platforms targeted by cybercriminals, Websense argued, but Microsoft mobile devices will see the highest rate of growth in 2013.

A growing community of hackers will keep up the pressure on potential adopters of mobile technologies, the company warned: "As development barriers are removed, mobile threats will be able to leverage a huge library of shared code," it said. "Attacks will also continue to increasingly use social engineering lures to capture user credentials on mobile devices."

Other warnings in the report: that cybercriminal will detect and work around sandboxed virtual security environments; that legitimate mobile app stores will host more malware in 2013; that government-sponsored attacks will increase as new players enter; that hacktivists will get more resourceful and creative in their efforts; that malicious email will see a second coming; and that cybercriminals will target content management systems and Web platforms.

"2013 will absolutely reinforce the fact that traditional security measures are no longer effective in thwarting advanced cyberattacks," Websense vice president Charles Renert warned in a statement.

Symantec has been equally nervous about the prospects in 2013, noting that ransomware – malware that locks up a user device and refuses to allow access until a ransom is paid – is becoming a serious problem and in 2013 will surpass fake antivirus warnings as the most common cybercrime strategy.

That company's other predictions include a normalisation of cyber conflict in disputes online and off; the rise of 'madware', or mobile adware, which interrupts user sessions with distracting and potentially dangerous ads or popups; monetisation of social networks that will see more sensitive user data shared via these networks; and a shift towards attacking mobile and cloud platforms, particularly as unmanaged mobile devices continue to open up new attack vectors.

The growing threat surface is reflected in what is expected to be strong growth in IT spending during 2013. According to figures released this week by Gartner, the Asia Pacific region will spend US$743 billion (A$711b) on IT, with US$75.3b ($72b) of that in Australia. These figures represent 7.8% and 3.2% growth, respectively, with NZ spending expected to grow 2% to reach NZ$11 billion (A$8.6b).

Announced at the analyst giant's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo on the Gold Coast, the figures paint a strong picture for IT spending across the board/ Spending on devices (including PCs, tablets, mobile phones and printers) will next year grow 12.3% over 2012 to US$229.7b (A$219.8b). Data-centre spending will grow 9.5%, software spending 11.9%, IT services spending 7.5%, and telecommunications services spending 4.8% compared with 2012.

With all this spend on mobile devices coming down the turnpike, mobile device management (MDM) vendors have been bulking up their offerings in anticipation. Zenprise, for example, this week introduced Zenprise MobileManager 8.0 and Zensuite, which protects corporate databy securing email attachments, securing corporate Internet browsers, virtualising applications to separate them within devices, and setting and enforcing usage policies on specific content.

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