1 in 2 Smartphones Unprotected, Says Sophos
Article by George Norman
On 03 Feb 2010
The “Security Threat Report: 2010” has just recently been released by Sophos, company that specializes in providing antivirus, anti-spam, spyware removal software, network and internet security, data protection, and computer security solutions. The report talks about various security related topics, but a survey conducted by Sophos in late 2009 on smartphone users caught my eye.

Here is the info the study brought to the light:
  • 26% of survey respondents said their data is encrypted.
  • 24% were not sure if their data is encrypted
  • 50% said their data is not encrypted, thus unprotected should they happen to lose their mobile device (or should it happen to get stolen).

“Next to USB keys, mobile phones, most of which are smartphones, are the items that are most often misplaced, lost or stolen. Almost every organization is hooked on them, whether they are iPhones, BlackBerries, or Windows Mobile. From our pockets, we access confidential email, customer relationship management systems, intranets and all sorts of sensitive documents,” explained Senior Security Advisor with Sophos, Chester Wisniewski. It is thus quite important that data kept on smartphones be protected.

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One of the most popular smartphones out there is undoubtedly Apple’s iPhone. Now in Apple-land there’s the myth that Macs are not affected by malware as PCs are. The opinion that Apple’s built-in security is impenetrable, is shared by some iPhone users as well. Macs are not impenetrable and neither are iPhones. Take the most recent iPhone OS update, version 3.1.3 – if fixes a grand total of 5 security vulnerabilities, 3 of which could allow for remote code execution. On top of that, jailbreaking the iPhone further reduces the device’s level of security.

"Standard iPhones are sold with a locked-down operating system, allowing only approved software to be installed. However, not all users are content to limit themselves to the capabilities of these locked-down phones, and unlocking, known as jailbreaking, has become a fairly common practice. The dangers of this were brought to the fore in November with the Ikee worm that spread in the wild. Subsequently, more malicious attacks on jailbroken iPhones highlighted the risks posed by unskilled users hacking their devices. Apple continues to notify users that jailbreaking violates the user agreement and engaging in this activity places the user at risk," says Sophos in the security report.



Tags: Sophos, Smartphone, Security, Encryption, Apple, iPhone
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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