Firms urged to invest in mobile device security

By neglecting to secure Blackberry devices and mobile phones used by employees, companies are leaving themselves vulnerable to the risk of losing sensitive information, mobile telecoms provider Orange has warned.

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By  Jane Plunkett Published  July 10, 2005

By neglecting to secure Blackberry devices and mobile phones used by employees, companies are leaving themselves vulnerable to the risk of losing sensitive information, mobile telecoms provider Orange has warned. Orange commissioned analyst firm Quocirca to survey over 2000 organisations and the results revealed that businesses are neglecting to take even the simplest security precautions, such as using passwords to protect access to corporate e-mails if a member of staff were to lose their handheld device. It is common knowledge that most businesses are slow to educate staff on the importance of information security and that companies are often lax in providing tip-top security to technology handled by staff. However the Orange report further reveals that 40% of businesses did not apply the same degree of security to handheld devices as they did to laptop computers, yet ironically nearly 70% of those surveyed said that data falling into the wrong hands through the theft or loss of mobile devices was their most important mobile security concern, ranking above unauthorised network access. “Increasing numbers of PDAs and advanced mobile phones are being used in business but the measures organisations take to secure the data stored and accessed by these devices is often inadequate,” said Rob Bamford, principal analyst at Quocirca. Smartphones for instance are capable of accessing the corporate network to retrieve e-mails, but they often however not equipped with necessary security precautions because they are purchased by the department in charge of mobile phones as opposed to the IT department, according to Clive Richardson, product director at Orange Business Solutions. “It is very common in the laptop area to have strong security, but it's less common to have policies for handheld devices," Richardson said. Businesses are advised to invest in remote deactivation services, which can automatically delete the contents of a mobile device’s memory if it is lost or stolen. Businesses will also need to take steps to protect their mobile devices from viruses, as mobile phone viruses become more common, and Orange have said it is presently working on technology that would let companies automatically distribute anti-virus software to multiple devices. Bramford has advised companies to make sure they have security policies in place for staff using mobile devices, and most importantly has advised that they enforce them thoroughly. Simple recommendations such as, ensuring anti-virus and firewall are provided as a corporate resource and installed on every suitable mobile device and updated regularly and automatically will alone help curb security threats to mobile devices. “It's making sure that everyone understands, right from the top of the organisation to the bottom," said Bamford. "Everyone has a responsibility for security. The more mobile a device is, the easier it is to be careless with it or lose it,” he added.

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