Businesses Failing to Invest in Mobile Security: Report

A Canalys survey of 814 SMBs finds mobile phone security is lacking and poses a threat to businesses.

Midmarket companies are not doing enough to protect their mobile phones, according to survey results by research firm Canalys. Based on 814 SMB (small and midsize business) respondents, the report indicated that 86 percent of SMBs have not yet adopted mobile phone security throughout their organizations. The research signals an "alarming gap" between the growing number of mobile phones, especially smartphones, and their secure usage.

"With Canalys estimating that the U.S. smartphone market will continue to grow by close to 30 percent over the next few years, mobile phone security represents both a big business risk and a market opportunity," said Canalys principal analyst Pete Cunningham. "The increasing number of private devices entering the workplace adds to the security problem, but smaller companies can't seem to keep pace with the appropriate protective measures."

The research also indicated Research In Motion's strength in the SMB space, as BlackBerry smartphones were the most widely used by the organizations questioned-ahead of devices from Apple, Motorola and Samsung. BlackBerry was also the most accepted platform among SMBs surveyed, with Android following in second place.

"The growing acceptance of Android in the enterprise is a concern," said Canalys enterprise director Matthew Ball. "Android could pose the biggest threat to mobile phone security, as it's arguably the highest risk platform. The growing number of application downloads-across all platforms-presents the biggest security threat, due to spyware, viruses and other forms of malware."

Among SMBs without a mobile phone security solution, 66 percent claimed it is an important issue, with this number increasing to 91 percent for those with mobile phone security already in place. SMBs cited lack of awareness and cost as the greatest barriers to the adoption of security measures.

Most of the SMBs surveyed with mobile phone security solutions purchased them directly from a security software vendor. McAfee and Symantec were the preferred suppliers, at 40 percent and 32 percent, respectively. Likewise, there was a strong correlation between mobile phone and PC security features, with SMBs noting antivirus as the most important security feature to have. For those without mobile phone security, most SMBs expected to buy solutions from their mobile phone network operators.

"With such a significant opportunity right now, there are a lot of companies trying to capture the mobile phone security market," said Ball. "To capitalize, though, vendors will have to develop different approaches to address the key customer segments, including consumers, SMBs and larger enterprises."