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Mobile Defences

If you are using mobile Internet devices, do you have secure network access and a company usage procedure? This may sound like overkill but mobile malware is a growing threat. According to Sophos’ Security Threat Report 2007, sixty four percent of companies have admitted they do not have any protection in place on their mobile smartphones and PDAs, yet 81 percent are concerned about the possibility of mobile intrusion.

So whose responsibility is it to secure your mobile devices? John Pescatore of Gartner, a company that offers technology-related insight to its clients, believes the responsibility ultimately lies with the mobile carriers. I decided to call some of the UK’s major players to see what security provisions they had for mobile Internet.

Orange informs me that there is nothing on its mobile network that will protect my phone from malware. However, to soften this blow, the rep opined that 98 percent of all mobile viruses are caused by Bluetooth and as Orange’s Smartphones don’t use this it isn’t a problem. He suggested that I speak to phone manufacturers rather than networks if I wanted to look into it further.

Pescatore also says that in the first instance we need to make sure users are well educated about the threats and this view is echoed by T-Mobile. The contact here said he would send me some information about their mobile security policies but instead forwarded me three links to websites that informed me how to be vigilant whilst using mobile Internet devices. Valuable information but not quite what I was after.

Shane Coursen, senior technology consultant at Kaspersky Lab also believes we should be more proactive as users and download both firewall technology and anti-virus software to our mobile phones. But should manufacturers be doing this for us?

Carphone Warehouse informed me that none of the Internet enabled phones it sells have any protection as standard – further more, none of the manufacturers plan to add such a facility. It did however say that Smartphones will support downloaded software if I can find any that is suitable.

So right now, at the advent of the mobile Internet we cannot rely on either our mobile network or our phone manufacturer for the security support we need. We must look for downloadable packages and encourage safe usage policies. My research leads me to encourage you to take your mobile security as seriously as for your PCs and Laptops. Once prices come down and technology improves we could all find ourselves with another device to defend from cyber crime.

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