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Securing Handhelds: Familiar Problems, New Challenges

Ever since the first PCs with 5-1/4 inch floppy drives made their way into corporations, IT and security managers have been dealing with the possible corruption and theft of company data.

And the security worry level has only increased in the past year with the introduction of a slew of varied handheld computers and devices such as the iPod, servers on a data stick, Blackberries, Web-access cell phones, and wireless PDAs and pocket PCs. Not only do all these new devices boast large storage capacities, they also can sustain high data transfer rates thanks to USB, Firewire, Bluetooth, or WiFi connectivity.

That means the risk ante has been upped quite a bit since an unscrupulous employee can easily take something like a corporation’s entire customer database or a complete archive of corporate e-mails out the door in his or her pocket.

But loss of data is just one issue to worry about. What happens to the data on handhelds is also important in today’s regulated corporate world.

“As soon as [someone] moves data onto an iPod, cell phone, or PDA, the company has lost control of the records,” says Dennis Szerszen, vice president of marketing and development at SecureWave.

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