By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2002-03-11 Print this article Print


Handhelds were initially intended for individual home and business users, so convenience has generally trumped security in device design, with security measures that seldom extend beyond short, easily entered (and optional) passwords and facilities for masking records as private.

However, the sorts of data that enterprise handheld computers can contain demand a higher level of security—particularly since these devices are substantially more vulnerable to loss or theft than larger and less mobile desktop and laptop machines.

IT managers can boost the security of handhelds under their care with software that allows for on-device data encryption and more rigorous password protection.

Asynchrony Software Inc.s PDA Defense Enterprise provides for 128-bit or 512-bit Blowfish data encryption on Palm OS-based devices, and IT managers can configure the software to wipe the contents of a device following a set number of incorrect password attempts. PDA Defense can also be set to disable the infrared and serial data transfer mechanisms of a Palm device. Asynchrony is also developing versions of its software for Pocket PC and RIM devices.

Trust Digital LLCs PDA Secure offers similar functionality, in versions for Palm OS and Pocket PC devices, and can work in tandem with the companys Policy Editor product, which manages password and encryption policies for a group of enterprise handhelds. With Policy Editor, IT managers can grant devices specific access rights and can disable units that have not checked in within a preset amount of time.

There are also a number of VPN (virtual private network) client options through which IT managers can arrange for users to connect securely to the corporate network. All Pocket PC 2002 devices now ship with a VPN client, which in eWeek Labs tests has enabled us to connect to our own VPN with no further configuration than is required on our desktop systems.

For Palm OS-based devices, Certicom Corp. markets a VPN client called MovianVPN, which enables those devices to connect to corporate networks in the same way. Certicom also offers a version of this product for Windows CE-based devices.

Technical Analyst Jason Brooks has been with the Labs since 1999. He has performed some of the most comprehensive tests published to date of Bluetooth products, including interference testing among Bluetooth and other wireless technologies. In addition to covering the wireless and mobile space, Brooks provides analysis of the desktop computing area, including Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.

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    As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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