Mobile devices not as huge a security threat as originally feared

Few security breaches have been traced to wireless devices or smart phones, but industry experts say the proliferation of these devices is still causing a concern.

“”I have not heard of a lot of attacks on mobile devices,”” said Michelle Warren, a market analyst with Toronto-based Evans Research

Corp. “”It’s more ‘What if? When it is it going to happen? What will it hit? How will it affect business?'””

Warren made her comments last month after a presentation to journalists and analysts by McAfee Inc. Executives from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based software maker said IT departments should be concerned about mobile device security, but said there have been few attacks.

“”I think that many of us in the industry thought we would have more of a problem with these things than we actually have,”” said Vincent Gullotto, vice-president of McAfee’s Anti-virus and Vulnerability Emergency Response Team (AVERT).

He said past breaches have included software surreptitiously loaded on to cellphones and programmed to dial 900 numbers, racking up subscribers’ bills.

Gullotto said malicious code is designed to spread to wireless devices through Bluetooth connections, but most malware loaded on to mobile devices does not spread as quickly as if it was put on PCs connected to a corporate network.

Executives from other security software makers vendors offered similar sentiment. Matt Ekram, product manager for mobile security at Symantec Corp., said in an interview that mobile devices have a “”limited impact”” on corporate security. He recommended network managers set up virtual private networks (VPNs) to help protect against attacks from unauthorized devices.

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