Increased IT mobility carries risks, vendors warn


For companies concerned about the security of their network or corporate data, some of the world’s largest network security firms aren’t talking just about protecting desktops with thin client technology or locking down laptops.

A panel of experts, speaking at the 2006 Globalpress International IT Summit in Monterey, Calif., say that a big issue for business users is recognizing how much of a threat mobile devices can be to a corporate network. Symantec Corp, which monitors 120 million systems world-wide, accounting for 30 per cent of the world’s e-mail traffic, views security threats like viruses, malware and network perimeter breaches as ever-growing issues for corporate networks.

Paul Miller, Managing Director of Mobile Security for Symantec, says that the threat is very real for mobile devices that are growing in ubiquity among road warrior workers.

“Mobile virus variants have doubled every six months since 2004. Mobile is the newest platform and hackers attack the weakest link,” Miller says.

Miller says three significant trends have emerged in recent years when it comes to network security issues: Pranking4Profit, Snoopware and Loss Mitigation.

Pranking4Profit, Miller says, is reflecting a shift away from hackers attacking corporate networks strictly to achieve notoriety and towards attacks for financial gain. Because SmartPhones — mobile devices that combine the use of voice and data transmission as well as personal information on mini-OS programs like Symbian or Windows Mobile — are increasingly being used as all-in-one gadgets that combine personal and corporate networks, they are increasingly prone to attack.

Snoopware is a growing form of mobile spyware that exploits telephony applications and even involves a potential risk of remote access by an attacker to listen in on conversations.

Miller says that Snoopware represents a fast-growing threat to corporate networks.

Loss mitigation — the loss of phones and other mobile devices — is also a huge threat to sensitive corporate data. The risks involved in losing network-connected devices will, Miller says, only increase to users and companies alike.

Todd Thiemann, of Trend

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