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Top 5 Mobile Security Threats

Not surprisingly, device theft tops the list. By Rachel Cericola By ChannelPro

Top 5 Mobile Security Threats

Not surprisingly, device theft tops the list.

By Rachel Cericola

While most employees know to steer clear of files associated with Britney or Paris, there are plenty of other parasites out there waiting to prey on a company's unsuspecting employees. Here's a look at the top five concerns currently plaguing the wireless world.

1) Device Theft
Many people seem to have a cell phone glued to their heads, but others often drop or leave behind their trusted pocket pal. "Mobile devices are easily left behind on a table, and a quick thief can grab and dash with your phone," says Derek Kerton, head of the wireless practice at The Kerton Group. Kerton also notes that the culprit isn't always the common thief; spies and other corporate competitors often have someone to do the dirty work as well.

2) User Error
Companies should know what their employees are doing with devices that are supposed to be used specifically for work. Lax Madapaty, product manager for Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business, says companies can enable and disable inapplicable applications, such as camera features on a mobile phone, as well as limit access to unsecured wireless networks. "Companies usually focus their attention on technology, but users are often the weakest link," says Khalid Kark, principal analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

3) Repairs
Keys fail, screens flicker, and wear and tear may leave your mobile device in need of a tune-up. Just make sure you get back whatever you send in; users often send units for repair, only to receive a reconditioned unit in return. "The original smartphone or PDA may be repaired or, more likely, it ends up being sold on eBay--with all the customer data on it," says John Pescatore, a vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc.

4) Phishing
Text messaging may be a convenient way to keep in touch with the office, but it's also very easy for attacks known as phishing. In the mobile world, this is also known as SMiShing--when a user is tricked into downloading viruses or other malware via text messages. Pescatore says that this technology takes advantage of people's level of trust of short messaging services, "which is way higher than it should be."

5) Common Platforms
So many devices use Windows Mobile or the Symbian operating system, so how hard can it be to create an all-encompassing threat? "A common platform will make it much easier for [hackers] to write viruses and worms that can propagate across many devices," says Kark.

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