As networks expand beyond the corporate firewall to mobile devices, companies need to protect sensitive corporate data when it’s viewed and/or stored on smartphones, laptops and tablet computers. Unlike in the wired network world, where you either get the speed that you're supposed to, or some counter or log somewhere points you to what's wrong, in the wireless realm, the variables are almost infinite. It's much more complicated and getting a lot worse.
There is reason to be concerned. A report from antivirus security vendor McAfee from 2011 cited a 76% growth in the amount of malware targeting mobile devices using the Google Android operating system. Google also recently had to acknowledge that a number of the applications available on its Android Market site turned out to be instruments for delivering malware. And one of those malevolent apps could be on an Android phone that an employee uses to access the corporate network.
Device makers and carriers are also called upon to do their part to secure mobile networks. Last year Sprint became the first carrier to join the Mobile Security Council, which seeks to collaborate to protect against mobile network threats and respond to attacks when they occur. Sprint supports many of the functions of Microsoft Active Sync, which is how many mobile devices connect to a WAN.
If companies are going to let mobile devices connect to their WAN or LAN, they need to make sure the devices can be remotely locked and wiped. This feature secures a smartphone so that if it’s lost or stolen and the phone falls into the wrong hands, data on it can be erased and can’t be accessed.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer remote wipe services to subscribers, as do OS vendors such as Apple, Android, RIM and Microsoft.
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