COVID-19 | Mobile usage evolution and security stakes

Posted by Roxane Suau on April 08, 2020

If we are requested to not be physically mobile, mobile usages are booming due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is no surprise that business applications are heading the list with remote working being enforced in many organizations. From an individual perspective, the containment drastically impacted our daily mobile activity with a general increase of time spent on our devices and a booming usage of social and entertainment apps (fitness, streaming…).

 

mobile_usages_covid19

 

In just a couple of weeks, concrete cases demonstrating the effective risks behind mobile usages made the headlines: from a ransomware disguised as a COVID map tracker hitting 400k+ downloads on official stores prior being removed, to a well-known conferencing app leaking personal data and embedding security flows.

This article will recap the recent mobile evolution and the underlying security stakes for companies.

 

In such a period where mobile usages are reaching record highs, enterprise must implement mobile security right away.

Pradeo supports companies by offering its mobile security services for free. Request them now.

 

Booming downloads and time spent on mobile phones

Considering that the average daily time spent on mobile devices is usually around 3 hours and 15 minutes, it has now increased by 30% if we consider China metrics during the pandemic.

The vast majority of this time is spent on applications, which also represent the main vector of threats (76% as per our last report).

During this quarantine situation, mobile apps downloads are booming all over the world. Looking more specifically at Italy for example, the global downloads from the App Store increased by 113% compared to the previous month.

 

Regarding different categories, business applications are registering the biggest increase (794%), far ahead of health & fitness (358%) and education (301%) apps. On the other side, the utmost drop affects travel applications. With people cancelling their business trips, holidays or usual work/home travels, riding and carpool applications lost the biggest volume of downloads (64% in the Travel category).

 

Business applications to support working from home

Taking a closer look at the top applications of the moment, among the 5 most downloaded applications on Google Play and App Store combined in the U.S from March 26 to April 1, 4 were related to business / educational purposes.

Companies had to reorganize in the urge and keep on working “like before”. To schedule meetings many have chosen to use solutions such as the famous but lately criticized Zoom or Hangouts, Houseparty, Teams…

These type of apps might handle some sensitive information and requires to be accordingly secured. Zoom for example, after the fuzz around the personal data sending to Facebook, updated its app and finally removed that behavior, so we advise you to upgrade it to the most recent version if you use it.

If digital service providers are expected to implement adapted security measures, even more when delivering business services, only an on-device protection can ensure corporate data security and meet general company requirements, which are often very specific.

 

News, socials: Staying updated and in touch

With the COVID-19 situation evolving every day, news apps are the cornerstone to get the latest info and recent metrics demonstrate an increase in downloads on this category.

Also, socials apps are more ubiquitous than ever becoming the privileged way to stay in touch with relatives. Facebook claims its messaging increased more than 50% last month, while WhatsApp noticed a 40% bump.

If users require such applications to stay up to date and close to their family and friends, they have to pay attention when granting permissions, even more when using their device for professional purpose.

 

Security metrics of news applications:

  • 84% apps process users’ geolocation, 33% contacts information, 16% audio & video recordings
  • 43% of connections are unsecure
  • 29 vulnerabilities in average

 

Security metrics of social applications:

  • 57% process users’ geolocation, 51% audio & video recordings, 40% contacts information
  • 39% of connections are unsecure
  • 31 vulnerabilities in average

 

Fitness: stay in shape

With home office also comes less exercise. Like many, you may have downloaded a fitness application from your usual app store. This category registers for the second biggest bump with 358%. On the U.S App Store for example, the application “Fitness Coach” is sitting at the third position, and the streaming fitness service “Peloton” has seen its download increased by 467% mid-March.

This category of app doesn’t differ from other and features unexpected behaviours and security flows.

 

Security metrics of fitness applications:

  • 83% process users’ geolocation, 40% contacts information, 23% audio & video recordings
  • 44% of connections are unsecure
  • 33 vulnerabilities in average

 

Entertainment: games, video streaming

With respectively 41% and 36% download increase, games and entertainment apps have a bigger demand than before, but it’s clearly not on the level of business nor fitness apps.

This moderate increase can be explained by the fact that a lot of people already had games on their phones, and played during travel times to work, during the lunch break etc.

Regarding video streaming, it is pretty much the same thinking. From March 26 to April 1, TikTok was the second most downloaded application, but it’s usually topping the charts, even before quarantine.

Still, games are a source of data leakage and security breaches.

 

Security metrics of games applications:

  • 96% device information, 62% process users’ geolocation, 40% contacts information
  • 39% of connections are unsecure
  • 31 vulnerabilities in average

 


 

In this context of global health crisis, Pradeo supports companies by offering its mobile security services for free until June 1st 2020. Request the services here.


 

Sources:

https://appfigures.com/resources/insights/twia-20200320
https://www.paymentscardsandmobile.com/covid-19-the-impact-of-coronavirus-on-the-mobile-economy/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2020/03/24/google-bans-coronavirus-apps-but-after-400000-downloads
https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/26/report-whatsapp-has-seen-a-40-increase-in-usage-due-to-covid-19-pandemic/

Topics: Mobile Security, News