Verizon Mobile Security Index: COVID-19 unearths new cyber threats


The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to quickly support remote working practices, often without proper security measures in place. The Verizon Business Mobile Security Index (MSI) 2021 reveals that many businesses may have left themselves vulnerable and open to cyber criminals in the rush to ensure their workforce could operate remotely. Forty-nine percent of businesses surveyed in the latest edition of Verizon’s MSI stressed that changes made to remote working practices during lockdown adversely affected their company’s cybersecurity.

Interestingly, even though 40 percent of businesses surveyed recognized that mobile devices are their company’s biggest IT security threat, 45 percent of them knowingly sacrificed the security of mobile devices to “get the job done” (e.g., meet a deadline or productivity targets) and nearly a quarter (24%) sacrificed the security of mobile devices to facilitate their response to restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

“The pandemic caused a global shift in the way organisations operate, many of which ramped up their digital transformation agendas and working models to meet the fast-changing needs of both employees and customers,” said Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Verizon Business. “While businesses focused their efforts elsewhere, cybercriminals saw a wealth of new opportunities to strike. With the rise of the remote workforce and the spike in mobile device usage, the threat landscape changed, which for organisations, means there is a greater need to hone in on mobile security to protect themselves and those they serve.”

The effect of the pandemic on the workforce is going to have a lasting impact. According to the report, a large majority (70%) of those that had seen remote working grow following the introduction of pandemic restrictions expected it to fall again afterward. However, seventy-eight percent (78%) said that it would still remain higher than before lockdown. Overall, our respondents said that they expected the number of remote workers to settle at around half (49%).

Small and Medium-Sized Businesses are also under threat

Over half of those surveyed (52 percent) said that small and medium sized businesses are more of a target than larger enterprises but even though this is the case, 59 percent of small and medium sized businesses had sacrificed security with 22 percent suffering a mobile compromise. Seventy-eight percent stated that they should take mobile-device security more seriously.

Security should always be front and centre

Of those surveyed, 72 percent of organisations are worried about device abuse or misuse. Part of the problem is that many companies struggle to develop an effective Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) — 57 percent didn’t have one at all.

The MSI details people and behaviours, apps, devices and things and networks and cloud as the four sectors of the mobile threat landscape. Additionally, it provides expert insights into how to help safeguard against pending cybercrime attacks, such as establishing a “zero trust network access (ZTNA)” model and a secure access service edge (SASE) architecture, which is designed for a mobile-first and cloud-first world.

About the Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021

The Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021 findings are based on an independent survey of 856 businesses across Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. It surveyed professionals that are responsible for the buying, managing, and security of mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices for their companies.

It provides unique insights into the current mobile threat landscape and what organisations are, or in many cases aren’t, doing to protect their data and key systems. In addition to analysis from Verizon’s experts, the report includes insights and real-world data from leading security and management companies Asavie, IBM, Lookout, Ivanti, NetMotion, Netskope, Proofpoint, Check Point, VMware, Thales, Qualcomm, Blackberry Cylance, and Wandera.

Read the full Verizon Mobile Security Index 2021.