Handheld headaches on the horizon

MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICES are blurring the network perimeter to the point of erasing it, forcing administrators to change the way they think about security. It no longer is enough to keep some people out and some things in.

We already know what a security risk the laptop PC is. With nearly ubiquitous wireless networking, laptops have become portable servers containing critical and sensitive information. The problem will worsen this year with the latest generation of what used to be cell phones, said Rob Shein, security solutions architect at Forsythe Solutions Group. Except for the size of the keyboard and screen, it is getting hard to distinguish between the laptop and what you use to make phone calls.

As the iPhone and other handheld devices are adopted as full-fledged business tools, the risks will grow, he said.

'This year, we are going to see more devices lost,' Shein said. This year or next, we will read of a lost iPhone or Treo containing the kind and volume of sensitive data already carried on laptops.

Rather than losing a playlist or collection of podcasts, a database of names, addresses and Social Security numbers will disappear in the back seat of a taxi, to the embarrassment of some agency or company that has no policy on cell phone use.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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