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Camera phones could threaten company security

Businesses are concerned that camera phones can compromise their security and employees' privacy, and many businesses are trying to ban camera phones from their offices.

According to Gartner, an outright ban of camera phones is short-sighted and will be hard to enforce.

By 2006, more than 80% of mobile phones shipped in the US and Western Europe will have cameras. As camera phones account for a larger portion of the overall mobile phone market, companies will need to implement security programmes that can be managed realistically.

"Most organisations simply do not have the staff or money to mount effective inspections," said Ken Dulaney, research vice-president at Gartner.

"Instead, businesses should designate secure zones where restrictions on these devices are tight and can be enforced. For other workplace areas, staff should be given guidelines about what is acceptable."

"Usage guidelines will be far more effective than outright bans, because it is not just the phones' cameras which could pose a security risk," said Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.

"For example, many phones can also record voices. Therefore, it is hard to decide where to draw a firm line about what can and cannot be used at work."

Gartner analysts said the flood of high-tech consumer devices, and not just camera phones, entering the workplace could, potentially, pose a security risk.

"There are Universal Serial Bus 'key ring' drives, some of which will soon feature built-in cameras that can quickly connect to almost any recent PC and take large amounts of information off the premises. There is also a new wave of DVD burners to contend with," said Dulaney.

"Any company policy directed at camera phones should be widened to address the transfer of information from enterprise environments to consumer devices in general." 

Written by Computing Staff SA


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