The mobile marketplace is quickly becoming the wild west of cyber-security.
Recently, Google pulled dozens of malicious apps from the Android market, reinforcing the industry belief that Android continues to be the top target for malware creators and mobile fraudsters.
Almost immediately, Android competitors raced to take advantage of the announcement. According to a report on PCmag.com, Microsoft evangelist Ben Rudolph announced on Twitter that he is giving away Windows Phone 7 devices to the users who tweet the five best stories of Android malware infection.
But in reality, the threat of viruses and malware infections isn't limited to the Android operating system. Across the nation, small business IT departments are struggling to defend their organizations from a wide variety of mobile-based cyber-threats.
In practice, effective mobile security should be part of a larger and more comprehensive effort to ensure the integrity of the organization's IT assets. Although mobile presents certain unique issues, there is crossover between mobile security and protecting the company's servers and PCs from unwanted intrusions.
Leading IT services provider, Datacom, advises SMB IT personnel to conduct comprehensive hardware and application discovery and analysis as part of the desktop deployment process. Similar routines could be created to assess the security risks posed by mobile devices in the workplace that feature Android and other operating systems.
Dan Croft of Mission Critical Wireless, a leading global enterprise mobility management services provider, agrees that businesses are often surprised by the unexpected challenges of enterprise-wide mobile device deployment. He notes that many organizations make the mistake of deploying mobile devices without first having established security requirements for enterprise mobile devices. Croft notes that "At a bare minimum, every business should enforce mandatory password protections and have the capability to wipe corporate data from a device on a 24/7 basis."
Rather than struggling to perform mobile security assessment and risk management in-house, it may be beneficial for small businesses to outsource software asset management and other tasks to third-party providers. In addition to delivering improved mobile security, outsourcing can improve the integration of the company's hardware and software assets and even minimize audit risks.
The mobile security threats small business IT departments are up against seem unlikely to go away anytime soon. But for increasing numbers of SMB owners, the potential costs of not addressing the mobile security question far outweigh the cost of a proactive security strategy.
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