• United States



by Paul Kerstein

Securing Mobile Data More Important Than Viruses

Oct 12, 20053 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Enterprises with workers that can access corporate data from mobiledevices should be less concerned about mobile viruses and more focusedon setting and enforcing rules for securing the data, said speakers atSymbian Ltd.’s Smartphone Show in London on Tuesday.

Very few real mobile viruses have actually proliferated in the market,said Morton Graubelle, executive vice president of marketing at RedBend Software Inc., a company that offers products that allowover-the-air installation and management of firmware for mobiledevices. Instead, the companies whipping up fear around mobile virusesare largely looking after themselves. “We have companies making moneyout of scaring people, warning them about viruses,” he said.

Industry leaders also blamed mobile operators for the growing concernover mobile viruses. “I have a sense that there’s hysteria from theoperators,” said Ben Wood, research vice president for mobile devicesat Gartner Inc.

Geoff Preston, head of marketing technology at Symbian, agreed thatoperators are getting “agitated” about the prospect of mobile virusesand thus are furthering the hype around such potential problems.

Ultimately, these speakers were optimistic that the wireless industrycould continue to aggressively push security in order to stem thepossibility of viruses becoming a real problem in the mobile world.”The mobile world should not just follow the PC paradigm by beingreactive. We should be proactive to prevent getting to the point the PCworld is in today,” said Preston.

Rather than worrying so much about potential mobile viruses, ITdepartments can do a better job of securing data that is stored ondevices. A simple education process for mobile workers can help, saidChris Atwell, sales director at Extended Systems Inc., a company thatoffers software that secures mobile access to corporate data. ITdepartments should emphasize that users should keep their deviceslocked and use an authentication process to access data. With suchpolicies in place, workers will begin to recognize that the data storedor accessible on the phone has value and that may make them think twiceabout downloading suspicious files, for example, Atwell said.

Companies can also deploy platforms that allow them to remotely eraseor kill a device that might be lost or stolen, thus helping to protectsensitive data from getting into the wrong hands.

Graubelle also stressed that mobile operators can implement devicemanagement platforms that can allow them to revoke applications thatusers may download, thus stemming the spread of potentially harmfulviruses. While some operators are beginning to police such downloads,all have a responsibility to do so, he said.

By Nancy Gohring – IDG News Service (Dublin Bureau)