Psion warns of handheld security risks



Ross Bentley

IT managers have been warned to reorganise the use of mobile devices within an organisation or risk security breaches, the...



Ross Bentley

IT managers have been warned to reorganise the use of mobile devices within an organisation or risk security breaches, the spread of viruses, inefficient spending and slack working practices.

Psion has published a guide to writing internal IT policies on the use of handheld computers in the workplace to counter the potential problems caused by a growing number of workers using the devices.

"Many people are buying them and then bringing them in for business use, downloading business information and uploading other data," said Anthony Gabey, spokesman for Psion. "Companies really should know what devices they are using and should ensure that their staff know how to use them properly. Now is the time to set the standards before mobile devices become so pervasive that offices lose control.

"While company policies on the use of laptops are advanced, the handheld arena is in its infancy."

Gabey said there were already 12 million handheld devices in use worldwide and that more than 75,000 were sold over Christmas in the UK. He said the number would mushroom in the coming year.

Catherine Pennington, a senior research analyst at IDC, said the same security rules apply for handheld devices as they do for PCs and laptops. "The threat may be greater because they are used a lot more frequently than laptops because they are less cumbersome.

"However, there are several vendors working on end-to-end solutions as well as companies such as Microsoft with Stinger or the Symbian collaboration, which will allow companies to standardise on one platform. This will help users putting together a policy," she said.

ross.bentley@rbi.co.uk

Four steps to regain control of handhelds

  • Conduct an audit - who is using what at work

  • Develop standard technology platforms and working practices

  • Security - encrypted data and firewalls are still a must; many suppliers are operating in this area

  • Training should be given so staff are able to use personal digital assistants properly - techies sometimes assume these devices are obvious but assumptions could lead to inefficient working practices.

    Source: Psion

  • This was last published in January 2001

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