The Other Side of

By Matt Hines  |  Posted 2006-04-18 Print this article Print

the Coin"> On the other side of the coin, at least one security applications vendor has become outspoken in its contention that mobile security concerns are being overstated. While there very well may come a time when companies need to be as concerned with mobile threats as they are with desktop attacks, encouraging customers to throw time and resources at wireless security efforts today will only hurt their ability to stay ahead of todays viruses, according to Sophos, an anti-virus applications provider based in Abingdon, United Kingdom.

"There is so much virus activity on the desktop today that having software makers tell enterprises they need to worry about this big looming mobile security threat right now is a little bit unproductive for everyone," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"Its not likely that most people will encounter mobile threats for some time to come; beyond creating device usage policies of some kind, Im not sure what work needs to be done."

In a survey conducted by the anti-virus provider in mid-2005, over 70 percent of the 250 IT workers polled by Sophos said they believed the current state of mobile threats to be over-hyped. Instead of looking at anti-malware solutions for mobile handsets, companies should be considering ways to extend their desktop password and enterprise data access policies onto new devices, Cluley said.

"Theres a lot of skepticism; most of the companies we speak to are saying that they know this isnt a significant threat," said Cluley. "Some of them may already be thinking about future, but they know that battle isnt taking place right now."

For advice on how to secure your network and applications, as well as the latest security news, visit Ziff Davis Internets Security IT Hub. One research company, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner, is advising its customers to begin considering a timeframe for looking at mobile security issues without encouraging enterprises to go out and start investing in technologies today. John Pescatore, analyst with Gartner, said it will be at least another year until real mobile threats arrive.

"People started hyping mobile security as far back as 2001, but we dont think its going to become a real issue until at least the end of 2007," said Pescatore.

The analyst said that at that time there will be more smart phones in use, greater heterogeneity among handset operating systems, and more openness among users in running mobile applications that involve executable programs running on wireless devices, a key for launching malware programs, he said.

"Once people start sharing more executable e-mail attachments and accessing applications, more viruses and worms will inevitably be spread," said Pescatore. "But looking at whats out there today and trying to build anti-virus software for every type of handset on the market is probably just a big waste of money."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest security news, reviews and analysis. And for insights on security coverage around the Web, take a look at Security Center Editor Larry Seltzers Weblog.


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