Just take a look at Google News and you’ll see how networking and IT managers in other countries are dealing with mobile virus threats. Results from a search in mid-June for “mobile virus” found the top five news stories from The Netherlands, Brunei, Croatia and South Korea. As these countries have much greater business use and penetration of mobile phone applications, they are also becoming primary targets for the virus writing crowd. In Canada, our lag in mobile application popularity can be used to learn from other countries’ problems, preparing ourselves for these new mobile security threats.IT managers shouldn’t just rely on the expertise of the mobile networks providers. Experts are saying new viruses are being transmitted not only through networks, but also between handsets, sometimes unbeknownst by the owner.
For example, some of the Bluetooth viruses are being transferred between handsets as people travel in airplanes and trains. Virus writers are taking advantage of Bluetooth’s features to automatically connect and transmit information between devices. It’s only a matter of time before identity theft that is prevalent on the Web hits the mobile market.
Network and IT managers in Canada need to start taking these threats seriously.
While many may think that mobile browser or downloadable Java applications are only a novelty, business applications are just on the horizon with features like desktop syncing to Microsoft Exchange and access to CRM data.
If phishing and spyware has caused such a stir with desktop Web browsing coming through a controlled T1 line, one can only imagine the damage a company could face when mobile handsets have sensitive information stored on them.
Progressive IT managers are taking steps to keep their businesses safe. One example that is helping support business cases for mobile security is protecting customer sales information.
Since sales people have their address books filled with customer contacts so they can be reached at any time, their phones could be shut down by a virus attack. The risk and exposure costs can be accounted by budgeting for mobile anti-virus software which all the major vendors now support.
An even worse case scenario is having all the customer information stolen by a competitor and erasing all those phone numbers. Pretty embarrassing to go back to a customer and explain what happened; chances are that the IT manager will get some of that blame.
Another measure is to revise the security policies and procedures to make employees aware of the risks. Make it a policy to turn off automatic Bluetooth connectivity, so that mobile phone users can manually reject any attempts for viruses to infect phones, safeguarding their own data.
So while mobile technologies and applications do allow us all to have greater freedom, we still have to be conscious of security threats that may come from greater productivity. Just make sure that valuable corporate information stays on that hip holstered device when going out the front door at the end of the day.

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