Corporate Smartphones in Danger!

Understand the Weaknesses and Keep Devices Safe

By Richard G. Brody, Ph.D., CFE;Darrell Banward;Kelley Hawthorne

NovDec-smartphone-hacked.jpgWhen Barack Obama became president, he made it clear that he wanted to keep his Blackberry with him. However, the U.S. Secret Service knew his smartphone was not secure. So, the National Security Agency, the White House Communications Agency and private companies developed software to "withstand hacker attacks and thwart eavesdropping spies," according to PCWorld. 


While the president may, in fact, be able to use his smartphone without fear of intrusion, the rest of us face significant security risks.  

Simple cell phones and personal digital assistants are becoming dinosaurs as smartphones are becoming the preferred high-tech form of communication. A smartphone is "a cellular telephone with built-in applications and Internet access" according to PCMag, which provides "e-mail, web browsing, still and video cameras, MP3 player, video viewing and often video calling." According to comScore's July 2011 U.S. mobile subscriber market share report, "82.2 million people in the U.S. owned smartphones during the three months ending in July 2011, up 10 percent from the preceding three month period." 

In addition to making phone calls, smartphones are most used to download applications (apps) and web browsing. According to marketing website ClickZ, "… smartphones make up less than 25 percent of the mobile phone market in the U.S., but their owners consume more than 60 percent of the app market and make up more than 55 percent of mobile browser use." ("Study confirms continued rise in smartphone app consumption," by Phil Hornshaw.) 

The same vulnerabilities that have plagued personal computers now threaten smartphones. Imagine if a fraudster hijacked the smartphones that your organization issues to employees for business use. Perpetrators can steal proprietary and economic information that could cripple your operations.

These vulnerabilities will continue to grow with the smartphone market. "To date, around four hundred threats on mobiles have been identified. While this may appear minuscule as compared to the four million threats for computers, the dangers to users are very real," said Vishal Dhupar, Symantec's managing director for India, in the June 20, 2010, Hindustan Times article, "Mobile phones new turf for hackers: Symantec." 

This article will focus on the most common threats and ways your organization can protect its business phones.



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