Mobile Security: How Gadgets Evolved

CSO publisher Bob Bragdon still has his first mobile office gadget from 1987. We take a trip down memory lane and examine how mobile device security has matured to meet today's data protection needs

CSO Publisher Bob Bragdon is a self-proclaimed "gadget head." His collection, which spans from 1987, runs the gamut from primitive digital address book to the latest generations of today's Blackberry and iPhone (Check out the slideshow to see pictures of all of them).

Bragdon, who is also a pack-rat, rifled through his attic and gave us the devices for a little retrospective. We enlisted mobile-office-tech expert Catherine Roseberry, author of 'Moving to Mobility: Creating a successful remote work environment,' to give us the details of each device's features and security. In just over two decades, we see how mobile technology security has transformed from simple password protection to platforms that now secure data transmission with encryption, authorization, access control and firewall protection (But they still include plenty of vulnerabilities. Check out 3 Simple Steps to Hack a Smartphone).

1989: Sharp Dial Master EL-6250H Bragdon began buying gadgets for work in 1987. His first purchase: A Sharp Dial Master EL-6250H, which he used to store contacts for several years. According to Roseberry, the device was a telephone book, memo pad, calculator and auto phone dialer with an 8KB memory. While it was manufactured long before concerns about data privacy and breaches dominated headlines, it did have a security feature. A secret key was pressed to keep items password protected, according to Roseberry. A key icon indicated whether an item was password protected.

1997: RIM Inter@active Pager 950 Bragdon used his Dial Master until about 1991, but it wasn't until 1997 that was issued a RIM Inter@active Pager 950 by a former employer. It was his first experience with mobile email communication, he said. The pager had a small keyboard and a full mailbox that held more than 500 contacts. Users could also send and receive two-way pages, faxes and send voice-to-text messages, said Roseberry. It had 2MB of memory and also included an address book, calendar, alarm, calculator and memo pad. While the device was a definite step up in terms of functionality, the only security feature included was password protection, said Roseberry.

1999: HP 6601x The HP 6601x was the first mobile device Bragdon used that had connectivity. A "brick," as Bragdon described it, it had 32MB of RAM, included a PCMCIA WiseCom 56.6kbps modem, and had Windows CE Services 2.1. It also had an IR Port and a docking cradle to connect to a PC.

Security included password protection similar to that of a PC, said Roseberry. However, if you lost your password, the device required a hard reset. All data was lost.

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