Security concerns are the biggest obstacle to the widespread adoption of wireless and remote computing in businesses worldwide today, according to a global survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by Symantec Corp.
More than 60 percent of companies are holding back on deployment, citing security concerns. Close to 47 percent of respondents cite cost and complexity as a major obstacle to deployment. All the while, almost one in five businesses has already experienced financial loss due to attacks via mobile data platforms.
The Economist Intelligence Unitís research highlights serious weaknesses in firmsí present security arrangements for mobile devices. While 82 percent of businesses worldwide indicate that they see the damage from virus attacks as the same or greater on a mobile network than on a fixed network, only 26 percent have actually assessed security risks of smartphones, compared with 81 percent of enterprises conducting security assessments for laptops.
Despite the proliferation of mobile devices used in the enterprise, only 9 percent of companies have incorporated a comprehensive security architecture designed to include mobile device access. Of the rest, 10 percent of companies have no measures for addressing mobile security, 39 percent are granting mobile devices access to corporate networks on an ad hoc basis and another 39 percent are integrating mobile devices into their existing fixed network security architecture.
The Economist Intelligence Unit surveyed more than 240 global company executives and conducted a number of in-depth interviews with executives across a range of industries to explore awareness of the security risks associated with the widespread adoption of mobile data solutions.
The research also looked at business readiness to respond should a security threat be realised. Regional responses were aligned on a number of matters, with regional contrast strongest around security risk assessment on specific devices and security software deployment. For example, 55 percent of Western European businesses have deployed security software to protect mobile data, compared to 44 percent in Asia-Pacific and just 36 percent in North America.
Oublished in March 2006, the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Volume IX highlighted that malicious code targeting mobile devices, particularly smartphones, continued to grow through the second half of 2005. The report also highlighted several new examples of malicious code for smartphones including Cardtrp, which was the first cross-platform threat with the ability to affect both Symbian and Windows operating systems. The end of 2005 also saw the emergence of Pbstealer, distributed as a file representing itself as a phone book utility for smart phones to entice a user to download and execute it.
Once a device has been compromised by one of these Trojan horses, information such as the userís phonebook, notepad, calendar and to-do list will be transmitted to Bluetooth-enabled devices that are within range. This may pose a serious breach of confidentiality if a corporate device is compromised in this manner, as sensitive contact information and appointments could be shared. The risks connected with mobile data will increase as larger mobile networks become a more attractive target for cyber-criminals.