So far this year, the surreptitious capture of audio and visual data via smartphone cameras and microphones has negatively impacted the world’s richest person and a beloved trillion-dollar company. It’s safe to say that awareness of this issue has reached the mainstream, increasingly forcing individuals, enterprises and product makers to change how they operate. To see how the trajectory of smartphone surveillance has changed even in the last several months, I think it would be helpful to look back at my 2019 predictions as a starting point.
Economic espionage – also known as industrial espionage, corporate espionage and corporate spying – justifiably resides as the top concern of security professionals and persists across companies of all sizes. Whether a company’s knowledge assets or data on its personnel, the odds have long been that someone seeks proprietary information.Today, however, the information is more accessible, exists in various locations and available to devices via the internet. What has also changed is the migration of access to data as it no longer occurs for everyone from a computer terminal in an office. Data now resides in the cloud and may possibly be distributed across a myriad of electronic devices. Moreover, the adoption of mobile computing combined with the explosion of electronic devices has forged a Bring Your Own Device (BYOB) work model that has essentially extended the enterprise’s security perimeter to each employee’s phone providing assailants a greater surface to attack with an easier entrée given the vulnerabilities with smartphones. These devices that have more computing power than what powered a business 40 years ago have but a fraction of the protections. The abilities to access corporate systems, intercept inter-company correspondence, eavesdrop on sensitive conversations, track employees and store precious data now reside on smartphones and reside in nearly every employee’s hand with the first and often only guard of protection to something an enterprise values.