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Risk

8/30/2007
04:00 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Mobile Computing Makes For Risky Business

Here's one we all already know -- mobile computer users take more security risks than office-bound computer users. A new survey shows just how risky their behavior is.

Here's one we all already know -- mobile computer users take more security risks than office-bound computer users. A new survey shows just how risky their behavior is.The Trend Micro survey polled 1800 mobile computers users worldwide, and while it drew its respondents from the corporate world the results offer insights -- and concerns -- for small to midsize businesses.

For one thing, 58 percent of mobile users admitted to sending confidential material in e-mail or by IM, as opposed to 42 percent connecting via company networks.

One "no duh" result is that mobile users, being likelier to connect through public or unsecured networks, get more spam, receive more phishing baits, etc.

Being away from the boss's -- or even their co-workers' -- eyes makes mobile users likelier to visit social networking sites and download movies or executable files, again by a large margin over deskbound staff.

Curiously, Trend Micro suggests "that mobile users are often more technically savvy and better educated regarding esoteric security threats such as pharming and phishing." Good news, since they're exposing themselves to more attacks.

Curious because the company's CTO also observed that, "Mobile workers may often be unaware of the risk they pose to the corporate network and that their behavior is increasing the risk to corporate security."

How technically savvy is that?

A certain amount of risky computing practices away from the office is probably unavoidable. "Unwareness" is inexcusable.

The risky behavior of mobile computer users is matched, in my opinion, by the behavior of a company -- of any size -- that issues mobile devices to employees without first putting that employee through a rigorous security training and awareness program that includes signing a detailed computer security and usage policy that has real teeth.

Giving employees a notebook and sending them out into the world without taking such measures? Now that's risky business.

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