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Smartphones, devices spark IT security "mobile melee"

Ellen Messmer | Feb. 28, 2011
While devices such as the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android are in most cases welcomed into the corporate world, there's uncertainty about how to fit them into enterprise IT security practices that have been concerned so long by Microsoft Windows.

There are auto-update mechanisms from Apple, for instance, with wireless carriers playing a role approving these updates in the middle, and thousands of third-party apps for these devices that might possibly one day need to be patched, says Rob Juncker, vice president of technologies at Shavlik. "It's a tectonic shift" from the world of Windows-oriented patching, he says, but Shavlik hints it may introduce its own approach to this mobile-device segment later this year.

The sheer plethora of mobile devices and the speed at which they are being introduced is also a factor putting huge pressure on traditional security vendors whose main preoccupation in the old days was risk posed by flaws in Microsoft operating systems and applications.

"It's absolutely harder," says Dave Cole, senior director product management for Symantec (SYMC) Norton Everywhere and Mobile. "It's more complicated."

The world of the PC generally revolved around a longer life cycle, while the "mobile melee" includes not just the makers of the operating systems and devices pushing their innovations out at a faster pace but also the wireless carriers involved in making decisions related to security, he noted.

While few believe security threats against iPhones, iPads, Android and their many cousins have reached the level seen in the Web-based Internet environment against the PC, there's acknowledgement that attackers are increasingly likely to see mobile devices as attractive targets for malware and social-engineering exploits as device adoption grows.

According to IDC, manufacturers shipped about 100.9 million smartphones to stores globally in the last three months of 2010, in comparison to 92.1 million PCs.

 

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