Mobile devices pose security dilemma for CIOs

Changing face of technology consumption poses security challenges: RIM

Malware attacks will increasingly target smartphones and mobile devices as their popularity soars.

Vice president of product security at Research in Motion (RIM), Scott Totsky spoke candidly about the future of security in mobile devices at a journalist briefing in Sydney. He said despite instances of malware being at about 400 per year on smartphones compared with 4 million on desktop computers, the future of attacks will be on smartphones because of the changing face of technology consumption.

Totsky said CIOs face a dilemma in relation to smartphone security: Managing security in the face of an increasing number of devices and threat profiles. Antivirus developers face a similar challenge.

“If you spend all your time adding on products for security, your mobile device spends more time managing security. Security is the thirsty elephant around the watering hole,” he said.

Program manager of telecommunications from IDC Australia, David Cannon, emphasised that CIOs were in a difficult position when it came to selecting mobile devices for employees. He suggested that devices selected for employees should have totally customisable platforms so that they can be managed by CIOs.

“There is a lack of ability for CIOs to impose mobile fleets,” he said.

Totsky and Cannon spoke about the challenges that would face the future of mobile technology and emphasised that human error was a risk factor in the security of mobile devices.

“We depend on the user to make complicated security system decisions in an instant,” Totsky said

“The human element is really the weakest link [in security],” he added.

Quick facts:

  • 31,544 mobile phones have been left in New York City taxis in the past 6 months
  • 43 companies suffered from a data breach in 2008
  • 4 million malware instances in a year compared with 400 on smartphones

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