Small firms warned of smart phone security threat

An IT security expert is urging small businesses to adopt data encryption software to safeguard against major smart phone security risks including data loss and theft.


Lloyd Borrett, security evangelist at internet security software provider AVG, says many small businesses are now realising that smartphones and notebook computers represent risky endpoints for data loss.


“With significant numbers of mobile computers being lost or stolen, it corresponds that plenty of sensitive data is also being lost or stolen,” Borrett says.


A recent AVG study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute in the United States, highlights the risks associated with storing and transmitting sensitive data on iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices.


The survey of 734 US consumers reveals 35% of respondents store confidential work-related documents on their smart phones.


According to the survey, 28% of respondents are unaware that using their smartphone for business and personal reasons can put business information at risk.


According to Dr Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, the findings signal what could be an overlooked risk for organisations created by employees’ use of smart phones.


“Because consumers in our study report that they often use smart phones interchangeably for business and personal [use], organisations should make sure their security policies include guidelines for the appropriate use of smartphones that are used for company purposes,” Ponemon says.


Borrett says the most basic form of protection for smartphones and laptops is the use of passwords.


“Of course, with so many websites and programs requiring the use of a password, you may have too many to remember easily,” he says.


Borrett advises businesses to store sensitive documents in a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, which is available as either a free service or as a paid plan.


“You can then access your information from anywhere with an internet connection. Plus, if your laptop gets seized, searched or stolen, you’ll still be able to access your secure documents using another computer,” he says.


“The other form of data protection you need to ensure the lockdown of information on a laptop is good security software.”


Meanwhile, technology analyst firm Ovum predicts the Asia Pacifica smartphone market to double in size by 2016 to hit shipments of 200 million, accounting for 30% of global shipments.


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