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Mobile Technology and Company Security: A Post Contributed by Steven Farrell*

The explosive growth of mobile technology has done wonders for business communications and employee productivity. Smart phones are now more than 15 percent of the handset market in the U.S. Tablet PCS are flying off the shelves and laptop computer sales remain strong. A person no longer needs to be in an office to retrieve, send or create important documents. GPS and tracking software on PDAs and smart phones make it easy to confirm where and employee is and what they're doing. Though these devices increase productivity, they are not without risks for companies and employees alike.

Data Theft

It is much easier to hack a cellular device than it is to tap a land line. While data encryption offers some control, it can be cracked by a determined expert. Theft is another problem. While many people treat their mobile devices as an appendage, they can still be left on a table in a restaurant or picked from a pocket in a crowd. If password protection is not rigorously used, sensitive corporate data can be lost or stolen. Wipe technology can also be installed, locking the device after several failed password attempts. A remote network administrator can then erase the device's memory if a security breach is suspected.

Data Transfer

Many mobile technology devices, particularly smart phones have a short service life before being upgraded. When exchanging one device for another, data should be backed up, then erased completely from the device's memory. Failure to do this can result in loss of proprietary information. A shocking number of smart phones and PDAs show up on eBay with company emails and documents still on board!

Voice Etiquette

While data can be lost, hacked or stolen from mobile devices, it can be much simpler than that. Astonishingly, many people still feel the need to raise their voices while talking on cell phones in lines, stores, coffee shops and airports. Forgetting that people can overhear what's being said should be addressed. Sensitive information should not be discussed in crowded or public areas.

Viruses and Spyware

With increased use of tablet PCs, laptops and smart phones comes increased exposure to viruses and spyware. Employees that use their company devices for social networking, shopping and surfing are particularly vulnerable. When the devices are linked back to the company network, viruses and spyware can corrupt or steal data.

Prevention

Developing a strict mobile IT policy is key to avoiding sensitive data. Enforcement of data encryption and password protection also help. Exclusive use of secured wireless networks will also help accidental loss of data over "evil twin" wireless hotspots. Updating of anti-spyware, anti-virus software and firewall protection is also important to keeping company information safe.

* Steven Farrell is the administrator of ReversePhoneLookup.org.

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