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Mobile security: A business issue, not a technology one

More user education is needed to solve the problem, with half of companies saying staff have a 'poor attitude' to mobile security
Written by Jo Best, Contributor
UK businesses have the got the fear when it comes to securing their employees' mobile devices but they're still seeing mobiles as a technology -- not a business -- issue according to new research.

A new report from Dimension Data has found that half of companies say their staff have a poor attitude when it comes to securing their data and devices, with only one in 10 firms having a security manager in charge of keeping mobiles safe, with 84 percent leaving it to their head of security to take care of.

With over £1bn spent on lost mobile devices a year, companies need to sort out their user education, the report says -- but if businesses really want to bring down the cost of replacing their mobiles, they should have a word with their bosses.

According to the report, senior personnel -- often users of BlackBerry devices and other high-end pieces of mobile hardware -- are the worst offenders when it comes to letting their handhelds go astray.

As well as users' sloppy security, virus writers are increasingly turning their attention to mobiles. Last week saw the emergence of another Trojan targeting smart phones. The virus, Skulls, is disguised as a piece of Symbian shareware and can disable smartphone applications like IM.

So what's the answer to locking down company mobiles? Education, according to Dimension Data's CTO Neil Louw, is key -- as is impressing on the company that losing sensitive data and hardware is more than an IT problem.

"Our belief is that this is a business risk issue and needs to be addressed as one," he said. "It's not a technology issue."

With an eye on the future as companies increasingly turn to mobile working - analyst house Meta Group predicts 65 percent of companies will have gone mobile by 2007 -- there's a big opportunity for tech heavyweights to capitalise.

According to Dimension Data's Mobile Working report, Cisco, Nokia and Microsoft will be the future of mobile.

"Those three [companies] are leaders in the space. When demand grows, especially corporate usage... organisations are going to look towards standardisation," he said.

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