Smartphone Security: Still in Its Infancy?

Thursday May 6th 2010 by Sue Poremba
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Smartphone security may improve over the next few years, but is that too little, too late?

One of my friends started a discussion on Facebook last week: Can we live without our smartphones? The majority said no, saying that their phones have become a vital business accessory.

Yet, many users remain lax about smartphone security.

Sometimes that's the issue of the phone itself, according to Wayne Rash, writing at CTO Edge. Touchscreen phones like the Droid and iPhone aren't exactly password friendly:

So what you do is watch carefully as the character you typed flashes briefly on the screen, then turns to a dot. If you accidentally trigger two keys instead of one, you'll never know. The password will fail, and you'll need to try again. If you do it right, you're faced with doing it all again when you check another e-mail account, or if you have passwords set on the device to meet the requirements of your corporate security policies, you'll have to do it every few minutes.

This way lies madness. Worse, this way lies insecurity. The difficulty of typing on these devices means that users will use the absolute minimum level of security they can get away with.

In addition, Mike Vizard warns that the lack of mobile security is a crisis waiting to happen. He wrote:

Mark Cohen, vice president of enterprise security for Unisys, says that when it comes to mobile computing, real security will require cooperation between the companies that make the mobile computing devices, carriers that transport information to and from those devices and the companies that have developed content for those devices.

There may be hope on the horizon.  A Network World blog stated the number of smartphones that are pre-loaded with security software will increase fivefold over the next few years. And more companies are developing software specifically with smartphones in mind.

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