There has been a technological revolution in the business world which has been driven by people power.
We’re talking about the smart phone revolution. Kick-started by Apple’s iPhone and the business tool of choice the Blackberry, it is rare that any self-respecting businessman or woman is seen in public without their mobile life support system.
This devotional spread of the word made mobile has come about not simply via the use of clever marketing but because consumers love their smart phones. They aren’t just for business they’re for life. They contain a blend of useful and fun applications, both for the office and for impressing your friends in the bar at close of play, and their spread has been phenomenal.
However, this ability to be useful both at home and at work represents an issue for business owners and IT departments. Security. Phones can contain sensitive data that can fall into the wrong hands. It happens to us all — even an Apple employee allegedly left the new iPhone prototype in a San Jose bar.
However, the real threat comes when they are brought into work and plugged into PCs. The use may be innocent enough, to log onto iTunes, look at holiday snaps or simply to charge up the device.
But hackers have picked up on this easy access and have been quick to realise that they can hit businesses through smart-phones easier than hitting the servers directly. Your phone may already be carrying malware that you innocently introduce to your network when you hook up. The new back door is at the front!
Need proof? Well earlier this year Greater Manchester Police were left red faced because they were hit by a virus which meant they had to be cut off from the national criminal database for three days. Click Here. The virus in question, Conficker, can spread via portable devices such as memory sticks.
And don’t think that just because you’re an apple fan you have the cure. Due to the popularity of the iPhone, hackers have managed to crack this platform too and therefore malware is on the rise on any Apple platform.
So how can a business protect its data while allowed its employees a bit of personal freedom? Well, the simple truth is that you need to develop a policy to combat this potential new threat to your IT security.
With the smart phone market expanding all the time, the chances of fraudulent activity increase. It’s crucial therefore that businesses are not only aware of this, but take steps to bolster security in these areas. Simple things like making sure that when employees leave they don’t take a mobile full of contacts and data with them to their new job are crucial.
But also ensuring that if any data sticks, mobiles PDAs have malware infections on them they don’t get a chance to spread. The answer for businesses is Network Access Control — it means that mobiles or other devices that lack antivirus software are blocked from accessing the network and placing other computers at risk of cross-contamination.