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Vulnerabilities / Threats

7/14/2006
04:15 AM
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Portable Danger

How serious is the threat of security attacks through mobile and portable devices? We want your input.

12:15 PM -- A laptop stolen from an employee's home. (See VA Data Loss Worse Than Expected.) A bunch of infected thumb drives scattered around a credit union parking lot. (See Social Engineering, the USB Way.) Threats against WiFi users hooked up to the office from their local Starbucks. (See Security Still Key WLAN Concern.)

What do all of these stories have in common? They are all threats posed by portable technology (mobile devices, USB storage products, laptop PCs) that can't be protected by company walls. And for many IT managers, they are security's most dangerous game.

In the last several weeks, the industry has seen how the convenience of portability can expose companies to huge losses: loss of revenue, loss of customer privacy, and loss of public image. Will the Department of Veterans Affairs ever live down the theft of that laptop? Will financial services companies such as ING be able to recover the trust of customers whose personal data was stolen along with a portable computer? (See Data Losses Hit Four More and DC Workers' Personal Data Stolen.)

If you're anything like us here at Dark Reading, you're probably wondering what you would do if you were in the security manager's shoes at those organizations. More importantly, you're probably coming up with a strategy to ensure that you'll never be put in that position.

This week, we're conducting an online survey to find out just what those strategies may be. (See Dark Reading Mobile/Portable Security Poll.) We want your input on the biggest threats you face in mobile and wireless technology, as well as portable storage media, and we want to know what you're doing about them. The survey takes only five to ten minutes to complete, and your feedback will be combined with input from hundreds of other security pros to create a picture of the current situation in portable and mobile device security.

For example, a recent study by Gartner Inc. indicates that enterprises are more concerned about the risks of WiFi technology than ever before. (See Security Still Key WLAN Concern.) Does your organization see WiFi as a critical potential vulnerability, or are Gartner's numbers overblown? Tell us what you think about mobile security strategies.

Similarly, we got a ton of interest in Steve Stasiukonis's column last month, about his penetration testing company sprinkling USB drives around a credit union with potentially disastrous results. Does your organization have a plan to prevent its systems from being infected by portable storage media, or are you lying awake nights thinking about it?

We're hoping our Dark Reading survey will shed some light on these issues, and many more. Please take a few minutes to answer the poll. In the next week or so, we'll share the results with you, and help you gauge how serious portable technology's threat is to your organization.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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