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May 22 2008   10:49PM GMT

CompTIA: Mobile security represents a big gap, and opportunity

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

Intuitively, I think we all knew this was coming. But now, there’s some research out of the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) that validates the notion that many companies are still seriously unprotected when it comes to their notebooks and handheld computers.

CompTIA just conducted a survey of more than 2,000 people responsible for information security within their organization. More than 50 percent of them said mobile security threats had grown dramatically over the past 12 months. But while 71 percent of these companies allow employees to tap into their networks from a remote location, only 39 percent have provided any kind of security awareness training about what they should worry about, or why. Another 19 percent said they DO intend to provide this sort of education before the end of the year.

Because there hasn’t been a seriously malevolent virus on cell phones or smart phones, we tend to be kind of blase about the threat. But compliance has got people downright spoked about the notebook thing.
Ironically, I just wrote a story earlier this week for Entrepreneur magazine about mobile whole disk encryption, which is being used increasingly to protect data on a notebook in case it is lost or stolen. Some 45 percent of companies of all sizes now are evaluating or planning to buy disk encryption software to protect against this, according to some recent Forrester Research data.

The take-away is pretty simple: Disk encryption is definitely a growing mobile security area, although there are some pretty big downsides — like your data isn’t recoverable if your hard drive dies. While the handheld market is less developed, the iPhone has got people evaluating handheld computers in ways that IT departments are wholly unprepared for. So, a VAR with expertise in this area, such as D&D Consulting in Albany, N.Y., stands a good chance to differentiate themselves.

Heather Clancy is a business journalist and strategic communications consultant with SWOT Management Group. She can be reached at hclancy@swotmg.com.

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