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Smart Phones "Bigger Security Risk" Than Laptops 174

Posted by kdawson
from the low-hanging-fruit dept.
CWmike writes "A recent survey of 300 senior IT staff found that 94% fear PDAs present a security risk, surpassing the 88% who highlighted mobile storage devices as a worry. Nearly eight in 10 said laptops were an issue. Only four in 10 had encrypted data on their laptops, and the remainder said the information was 'not worth' protecting. A key danger with PDAs was that over half of IT executives surveyed were 'not bothering' to enter a password when they used their phone. A VP at the company that performed the survey said: 'Companies need to regain control of these devices and the data that they are carrying, or risk finding their investment in securing the enterprise misplaced and woefully inadequate.' Is this just iPhone fear-mongering? Do you think the passwords execs could remember would help with securing PDAs and smart phones?"
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Smart Phones "Bigger Security Risk" Than Laptops

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  • Surbey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:48PM (#23633503)

    password when they used their phone. A VP at the company that performed the surbey said:
    Surbeys, we should learn how to take them
    • by Fred_A (10934)
      Because if something people aren't accustomed to it's surbeys.

      So prepare now by going to Surbeys.com ! it's not too late !
      You could still lead a fruitful life !
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by edittard (805475)
      That's what happens if you use voice recognition software when you have a colATCHOOO! DELETE no I meant to delete it not write the word delete you dumb machine aww fekkit
      no carrier.
  • or at least use a spell checker before opening oneself to public mockery on the Slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:52PM (#23633535)
    So this is not just "iPhone" fear mongering

    In fact why is it fear mongering at all.

    Do all slashdot submissions have to end in a catchy imbalanced question?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes. Most of these idiotic questions should be answered with "mu [wikipedia.org]." However, that's not a normal answer, so we flood the comments with ridiculous arguments about the stupid question stuck to the submission.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Did I stop submitting when the editors started rephrasing all submissions in the form of catchy imbalanced questions?

      Tags (experimental): {Yes, Definitely, Sadly, Slashdot+has+become+digg}
    • by Vexorian (959249)
      If you want them to get to the main page, yeah.
    • What, just like your comments?

      And mine? ;)
    • iPhone, because... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's apropos to bring up iPhone because, as far as strictly consumer devices go, the iPhone is the biggest share of the Smartphone market. And, as Apple continues to cannibalize it's iPod market, that share is just getting bigger, bringing people into the market who had not previously owned iPhones.

      Now, that's not such a big problem as far as this particular issue (enterprise security) is concerned. What IS a problem is when one of the big mucketty-mucks in the company wants to start using an iPhone inste
      • It's apropos to bring up iPhone because, as far as strictly consumer devices go, the iPhone is the biggest share of the Smartphone market.


        because it is pretty much the only strictly consumer smartphone. the rest is also good enough for business and the story is about business anyway.
      • by Gilmoure (18428)
        I'm lucky where I work; DOE covered company. We have to comply with guberment security regs, which can be a pain when you get a big unfunded mandate, but at least no one can say they're exempt. CIO knows his job depends on keeping Nuncle Sam happy and not Joe Blow in HR.
      • by Arterion (941661)
        I ask this question legitimately: As someone with experience in the area, what is your opinion of Windows Mobile in an enterprise environment?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      It's not. It's a note on how executives are the Security hole.

      When I worked at Comcast the It department was THREATENED with retaliation and firings if we did not set certain executives blackberry's to not have any passwords. They hated to have to enter passwords and even complained and forced their way to even have their laptops not auto lock the login.

      It's these immature executives that are the biggest security hole. And it's not getting better.

      They demand to have it their way and will bully everyone in
  • Well. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alexborges (313924) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:53PM (#23633541)
    On this topic, the thing here is that the web is there to address this problem.

    If the execs were forced to go to the website to do anything, then they can do whatever the hell they want with their phone.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grizdog (1224414) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:57PM (#23633565) Homepage
    Usually there is a tension between security and convenience/ease of use. Convenience is going to be paramount for most users of mobile phones, PDAs, etc. So security will typically take a hit.

    Remember, people want to use these things while they are driving a car, eating fast food, and listening to a book-on-tape. They don't want no stinkin' security features.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by gamemaster_bm (591638)
      In addition to this point, very few companies (i.e. not Fortune 500's) either have data or IP worth stealing on executive's mobile phones or PDA's. Laptops I can understand needing additional security if it is used as a workstation, but convenience for the average executive outweighs the potential security risk. What it comes down to is those companies that do have sensitive data on their mobile devices probably are large enough to have a competent IT staff capable of locking the device down properly.
      • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

        by blincoln (592401) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:54PM (#23633923) Homepage Journal
        In addition to this point, very few companies (i.e. not Fortune 500's) either have data or IP worth stealing on executive's mobile phones or PDA's.

        The entire content of their inboxes doesn't count as data worth stealing? What about the potential for shorting the company's stock and then using their device to send an email from their account that will make the value drop (if only briefly)?
        • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @09:37AM (#23637281) Homepage
          How about the content of my CEO's phone? We are a 10 man shop. we are worthless then right....

          He's got the entire customer contact list. Our competition would pay at least $2500.00 for that.

          He's got his email on there, Competition would love that as well.

          Also 2 gigs worth of one note files on specific projects being bid on, internal documents ,etc...

          I'm betting to the right buyer his phone unlocked is worth at least $10,000.00 as it can generate at least a quarter million in additional sales and revenue.

          Oh I know of at least 4 companies around here that would love to get their hands on that info.

          gamemaster_bm seems to not know anything about business and the value of insider information. It's worth a crapload to that companies competition.
          • by vijayiyer (728590)
            Now say your CEO's time is worth $1000/hr. If you waste 10 hours of his time because he can't use a PDA, you've already made up for the price difference. You have to multiply the cost by the probability of occurrence. How often does someone really lose their phone? And then what is the probability that the person who finds it knows the industry well enough to sell it to someone who cares?
        • Biometrics and tamper-resistant ASIC chips would make it difficult for all but the most determined and powerful organizations to get information off of smart phones. This would stymie most of the industrial espionage corporations out there. You'd need to install an exploit that could wait and hide until decrypted information was sitting in memory somewhere. Doing this might take considerable manpower if the system is hardened.

          Governments and the largest corporations would still have the wherewithal to do
      • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

        by geekmux (1040042) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:57PM (#23633947)

        In addition to this point, very few companies (i.e. not Fortune 500's) either have data or IP worth stealing on executive's mobile phones... What it comes down to is those companies that do have sensitive data on their mobile devices probably are large enough to have a competent IT staff capable of locking the device down properly.
        Er, contacts, sensitive emails, HR data, IP, financial data, contracts, just what exactly does your average CxO NOT deal in? Give me a break man, I mean hell, would YOU hand over YOUR smart phone to a stranger and not think twice about it? Your opinion on the value of data pretty much says it all. And NO, sheer size of a company does not yield "competent" IT staff, trust me on this one...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          "What it comes down to is those companies that do have sensitive data on their mobile devices probably are large enough to have a competent IT staff capable of locking the device down properly."

          "all. And NO, sheer size of a company does not yield "competent" IT staff, trust me on this one..."

          Jesus H. ... who to trust ? On the one hand GP makes a good point and on the other P makes a good one.

          If only life were simpler ...
      • by vijayiyer (728590)
        Exactly. The very fact that PDAs have mainly email available on it, and that email is inherently insecure (unless used with an encryption architecture, which it never really is), means that the PDA is not in and of itself a security risk. Loss of productivity has a cost too, and many Slashdotters forget that.
  • by samkass (174571) on Monday June 02, 2008 @08:58PM (#23633571) Homepage Journal
    The only handhelds allowed to connect to our corporate network are company issued ones, and they come locked down so you have to enter a password after a few minutes of inactivity to do anything except answer the phone. Our laptops come with the whole-disk encryption pre-installed. All external web access goes through the company proxy.

    It's possible to lock it all down instead of live in fear. Of course, there's a fine line between security and stifled innovation. Our company's proxies, by default, blocks blogs, and I have to request that they be unblocked one at a time. Since most of the discussion concerning JSRs for JDK7 development happen through people's blogs, it can seriously slow down the ability to do my job sometimes. But if you want things secure, there are going to be tradeoffs.

    (And if a company laptop doesn't contain ANYTHING worth stealing, the employee should probably be fired for not producing anything worthwhile :) )
    • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @12:05AM (#23634687)

      (And if a company laptop doesn't contain ANYTHING worth stealing, the employee should probably be fired for not producing anything worthwhile :) )
      That, or they're (God bless them!) putting their data on network drives, not on their PC. Harder, but still doable, with a laptop, even on the go, as long as you have VPN access. It's always tragic/amusing when someone loses all their data, when they knew damn well they should've been keeping it in a location that's backed up regularly. :/
    • by dave1791 (315728) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @01:18AM (#23635009)
      > It's possible to lock it all down instead of live in fear.

      That is the default position here on /.; that of a sysadmin. My perspective is that of a user. IT is often too insular and unresponsive to the needs of its users. It tends to be bureaucratic and sees everything through the prism of security risks and administration. User workflows are not often adequately addressed. The popularity of Microsoft's sharepoint server is often attributed to departments circumventing central IT. Why would people do this?

      For example, it is important in my job to keep abreast of news and blogs in my field. Now I can spend a couple of hours per day manually checking various sources, or I can set up RSS feeds, scan headlines, read deeper where needed and take care of this in 15 minutes. IT had disabled the RSS feed reader in Outlook, so I have to circumvent the way that IT apparently wants me to work. I use an offsite feed aggregator to avoid having to install unauthorized software. My having to circumvent IT to work means that there is dissonance between how IT sees my role and I (and my boss) see my role.

      I tend to view new security measures as productivity killers because they are not accompanied by contextual interviews to see how I work.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by turbidostato (878842)
        "That is the default position here on /.; that of a sysadmin. My perspective is that of a user. IT is often too insular and unresponsive to the needs of its users."

        I'm on IT and I have to tell you some two things:
        1) I'm a user as much as a sysadmin, or what did you think? So please consider I do see it from both perspectives: that of the sysadmin I am and that of the user I am too so it might be, just from this assertion only that I'm on a more relevant position regarding this issue than you.
        2) More often
    • Unless the device uses onboard storage, it is most likely using an SD card formatted with FAT t. So far I have not seen a password locked SD card.

      It takes but a second to remove an SD card.

      • BlackBerrys can encrypt the entire microSD card, to both the specific device and password. If a wipe is triggered (either remotely or by self-destruct), the card goes with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:03PM (#23633595)
    And if you have a blackberry enterprise server, you can:

    - force your users to have a password
    - force the device to lock after a specified period of inactivity
    - force the user to enter the password every x minutes regardless of activity
    - prevent users from having a trivial password
    - give users a duress password
    - set the blackberries to store everything in encrypted from
    - if a blackberry is lost, you can remotely lock the blackberry
    - if a blackberry is lost, you can remotely wipe it

    Blackberries are the best mobile platform, period.
    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:25PM (#23633741)
      Mod parent up. Blackberries ARE better than the other PDA platforms in terms of security, because they do support this level of security 'out of the box'.

      Other PDA's don't, and in most cases you can't even add it. With the BB, you can essentially set them up so that all data is end-to-end encrypted to YOUR server, and from their it can go out to retreive web pages, access address books, download documents, run applications, etc, etc. You can apply corporate filters to the web, limit applications, etc, etc all very easily.

      All other PDA platforms require you to trust the carrier and the user for a significant chunk of the security. They give you exchange and imap support for example so email can be reasonably secure, but its much harder to lockdown EVERYTHING else... like blocking it so the pad web browser can't reach facebook or myspace or so poker can't be installed... blackberries make it as easy to manage PDA's as it is to manage desktops... which is to say... its a hassle. But on other platforms its not even really doable.

      How easy is it to get an iphone to run through a 'VPN' so it can access an intranet site and have no or extremely limited access to the public WWW? This is a pretty common scenario for the PC's staff are provided by enterprises, but smartphones in general do no make this sort of configuration easy; in many cases its simply not possible.
      • by ohcrapitssteve (1185821) on Monday June 02, 2008 @10:10PM (#23634029) Homepage
        In just a few days, Apple is set to release iPhone Software 2.0 (as well as maybe Hardware 2.0...) but sw 2.0 is slated to have many of the enterprise features listed above. Not to sound like an Apple commercial, but features will include:

        -ActiveSync (with SSL..)
        -Remote administration with remote wipe of a lost device
        -Cisco VPN with RSA SecurID

        And as far as the VPN question, it is pretty straight forward, just another pane in the settings menu. PPTP and IPSec.

        So iPhone's release featureset wouldn't have satisfied your needs, but tune back in in a few days and see if it floats your boat.
      • All other PDA platforms require you to trust the carrier and the user for a significant chunk of the security



        Not any more: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/mobile/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

      • by op12 (830015)
        For Windows Mobile devices, an application called Sprite Terminator has been around for a long time which allows you to track your phone via GPS, send an SMS message to wipe or lock the phone contents, get the recent call log remotely, etc. It's $15, but if you lost your phone and you use it for lots of personal info, it would be well worth it.
      • by linhux (104645)

        How easy is it to get an iphone to run through a 'VPN' so it can access an intranet site and have no or extremely limited access to the public WWW?

        On the iPod Touch (on the the iPhone is probably the same) Settings -> General -> Network -> VPN

        (The wording might be different, I have another language.) It supports L2TP and PPTP with RSA SecureID or pre-shared secrets authentication (no certificate support though), and you can configure it to route all traffic through the VPN. I'm guessing that, with

        • by vux984 (928602)
          Right, but can IT setup the VPN and prevent the user from turning it off? Not now. But maybe with 2.0?
    • I have no experience with Blackberries. Do they support traditional wifi (802.11a/b/g/n?) I thought emails and all that went through Blackberry's central servers before being passed on to the organization's or corporation's servers. I know this data is encrypted, but does it meet the encryption requirements laid down for electronic medical records in HIPAA? I also wonder about Blackberry service coverage. In many of the buildings where I work, I don't get cell service (Sprint) and my peers do not eithe
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:57PM (#23633945)
        I have no experience with Blackberries. Do they support traditional wifi (802.11a/b/g/n?)

        Some models do.

        I thought emails and all that went through Blackberry's central servers before being passed on to the organization's or corporation's servers.

        Depends. If you have a blackberry enterprise server, you manage the encryption entirely in-house. The company (RIM) is only carrying the encrypted message, and RIM doesn't have the keys, you do. The government of India was in the news recently, threatening to cut off blackberry service, since they can't decrypt the messages.

        If you don't have a blackberry enterprise server, RIM manages the encryption on your behalf. In this case RIM has the keys.

        I know this data is encrypted, but does it meet the encryption requirements laid down for electronic medical records in HIPAA?

        Absolutely. They have a sales division dedicated to health care [blackberry.com].

        I also wonder about Blackberry service coverage. In many of the buildings where I work, I don't get cell service (Sprint) and my peers do not either (AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, etc).

        That really depends on your local provider, and how much concrete & steel you have in your building. If you really want to, you can buy a cellular repeater to carry cell phone signals through the building. Expensive though.

        There is local wifi available, but can Blackberry use that?

        Some blackberries can do wifi.

        Just wondering what the limitations of the seemingly "perfect" Blackberry platform really are.

        I never said it's perfect, just that it is the best of what is available.

        The thing I found most annoying is that you can't make the phone ring & vibrate at the same time. It can ring only, vibrate only, vibrate then ring, but not both simultaneously.

        If you have a headset plugged in to the blackberry, when the phone rings, the ringing sound is made by the regular ringer, not through the headset.
    • In addition, everything sent to the BES is encrypted (3des, I believe?), with options for VPN to the office. I don't know much about it, but I do have one for personal use with BIS, and the encryption is there too. With BIS, however, you are trusting blackberry's servers with your mail and internet proxying.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mdboyd (969169)
      I believe that most of the major Smartphone players have begun to do things like this. For example, Microsoft Exchange 2007 allows users and administrators to remotely wipe devices. Combining Exchange 2007 with WM6 brings additional security features: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc182299(TechNet.10).aspx [microsoft.com]. Bottom line: If you Smartphone makers want to reach Enterprises, they need to take both security and device management into consideration.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417)
      So far the theory.

      Now, let's see who uses Blackberries. Managers. Who makes security guidelines? Managers. Who have usually little to no technical skills and loathe everything that keeps them from "just using" stuff? Managers.

      I wish you all the luck in the world to convince your managers that those security features are a good idea.
    • by Lumpy (12016)
      And if you have a immature executive staff, you can:

      - be forced to not have passwords
      - be threatened if the device locks
      - be fired if they have to enter the password a lot
      - be told to use 1234 as his password
      - not be informed they lost the blackberry in barbados until 3-4 weeks later.

      Many executives force their hand and make IT not have any security on their devices. I dont care if you have the best device on the planet all it takes is one under educated and immature executive with a power trip to undo it a
  • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:18PM (#23633687)
    The cell phone I have has one level of protection - a PIN number that only needs to be entered when it turns on. As long as it's on, you can do anything you want with it, including modifying content or planting evidence. In addition, you can still access content on the phone by attaching it to a computer (without any need to enter a pin.)

    As a result, I'm not storing any sensitive information on the phone.

    The Palm Pilot was at least better in this regard, since it allowed seperating public and private information and requiring a pin when you wanted to access private data. However, this was a PDA rather than a cell phone.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ira Sponsible (713467)

      If you're using the built-in Palm password feature for your security, you might want to have a look at this:
      No Security [geocities.com]

      Basically, the Palm security program has a tragically weak flaw which this handy little program exploits easily. All you have to do is load No Security into the palm install queue and hotsync. It immediately deletes the password, even if the device is locked, giving you full access to any private data hidden by the Palm security program.

      I use a couple of different solutions to this prob

  • A surbey? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cala (1134197) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:22PM (#23633717)
    The bastard cousin of the sorbet?
  • by s4ltyd0g (452701) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:24PM (#23633735)
    It's pretty much a done deal. Keep sensitive data on a small device and if you lose it, assume it's compromised. Password or not.

    regards
  • by CorporalKlinger (871715) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:31PM (#23633767)
    I've had a Palm Treo 755p Smartphone for a about 9 months. I have a lot of medical data on my unit, including (unfortunately) some patient data. I've tried to use Palm's "Private Records" feature for sensitive data, but it's too complex and unreliable. Some things that I mark as private show up in the regular views anyway, without needing to be unlocked with a password, even after I try to "lock" them or mark them as "private" multiple times. I doubt they're actually encrypted, either - probably just a bit-flag which only some software on the device reads and uses.

    So I tried instead to setup an automatic lock on my device - I figure a power-on password should be fine. I set that up - and unfortunately, even though I set it to auto-lock after 1 hour of non-use, it NEVER asks for the power-on password. I've set it up exactly as Palm's site suggests... it still won't auto-lock the unit.

    The thing is that the tech seems to need a fix before we can go about blaming the users. I've never lost a patient file or my phone, but obviously it would be a major problem if something like that did happen. Thankfully, the healthcare system I work for is going to electronic records, so nothing will be stored on my Palm anymore; I'll just use my cell plan to connect to the server (SSL encrypted) and access files wirelessly.

    Still, there are other things I'd rather not have fall into a criminal's hands... hospital phone numbers, phone numbers of peers, nurses, other physicians, pagers, laboratories, etc. But my model, at least, is simply inadequate in protecting this data. Someone needs to come up with something better than what's currently available - maybe once it's "expected" - much like a password when you log onto Windows - it won't be such a big deal for people to use it.
    • by areusche (1297613)
      I haven't owned a Palm handheld in a while, but I recall that you can set the Memo application to mask private information. I personally would much rather have a biometric thumb slide to access my PDA then to try and type in a password. I know there was an Ipaq that did this way back when, but it appears that it was a fad and no one has been implementing this since then.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Anyone who keeps med records on a phone..... do you have a similar attitude in other endeavors? Seriously, I find that reprehensibly lax. I trust you are not my med provider...
      You state: "The thing is that the tech seems to need a fix before we can go about blaming the users." then keep data there ANYWAY?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Reprehensibly lax? You'd be surprised how insufficient most healthcare systems are when it comes to securing patient privacy. The extent of HIPAA at some hospitals involves ensuring that the clipboard cover of a patient's chart is closed when visitors or guests walk past - though there's nothing to stop those visitors from picking up the file and looking in it while nobody at the clerk station is paying attention.

        The point here is that healthcare records are going electronic. I'm required to have OB/GYN
        • by pilgrim23 (716938)
          Sir this is not the venue for this discussion but let me assure you, I AM aware, more then you know of the circumstance and nature of what is required of you. and I still Stand by what I said. it is lax to use this tech if the "tech" is not sufficent to the security then: do not use it. we hear of breeches often, and this forum is quite qualified to see the danger. if you cannot trust what you have, do not point fingers at tools, or tool makers; fix your process.
          • As I said, no data has been compromised so obviously my process is fine. I do wish the security technology was more substantial so that if the process failed, additional safeguards would be in place to protect data. Paper files lack any encryption and can be taken with as simple a technology as a photocopier, camera phone, or even just by folding up a page and stuffing it in a pocket. Digital technology is an incredible step forwards in providing easier access to patient data for healthcare professionals
    • Security is a minimum of the system's capability and the user's capability. You can have the most secure system, with a moron on the helm it is easily compromised. If nothing else works, you can rest assured that he will simply hand over all the necessary information to his attacker himself.

      Security is a matter of improving technology and training your staff. Doing just one of them will not increase your security past the more insecure one of them.
    • Don't use the PalmOS security stuff; it doesn't work well (as you've found).

      Instead, install a free 3d party app like "Secret!". It simply keeps memos in encrypted format with a configurable timeout. Simple and effective.

      Admittedly it's a bit awkward for phone numbers; you have to do copy/paste to dial the number. I prefer to just use the normal phonebook but have very little information attached to the number itself.

      If you're really paranoid, there are also third party apps that support a "poiso

  • So what the article says is that they think handhelds are dangerous because they're not bothering to secure them? Seems like an easy fix ...
    • So what the article says is that they think handhelds are dangerous because they're not bothering to secure them? Seems like an easy fix

      Hah!

      You clearly haven't dealt with directors and the like.

      The only security they are interested in, even tangentially, is financial security.

      • I elaborate on that, if I may.

        High level managers (read: The ones that will actually be the ones using those tools the most, and also have the most to lose should their tool be compromised) have no problem requiring insane passwords and password changing policies from their underlings (worst I've seen was requiring a 10 letter PW with at least 4 non-alphas and at least one number and one "special character", changed every 2 weeks) but when it comes to themselves, they usually want to be left out of that ted
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:43PM (#23633839)

    Only four in 10 had encrypted data on their laptops, and the remainder said the information was 'not worth' protecting


    And honestly, a lot of them could be right in that it wasn't worth protecting. For example, what percentage of documents are really needed to be secret for a company's existence? My guess is about .001% is. From where I have worked and what I have seen most of the documents are simply letters, forms, etc. and not Our_Credit_Card_Numbers.doc or All_Employee_SSN.xls. So for most people, most small businesses, most employees, the information isn't really worth protecting. Now, if you are say, a bank, the information is more valuable then say a restaurant or a factory's info, but for the average employee with a laptop, most of the documents if not all of the documents are free of personal information or company secrets. Chances are some guy with a packet sniffer will get more information off of a laptop then a thief taking it and reading the documents.
    • You would be surprised what a clever hacker can gain out of trivial documents. If I may offer you an example of an audit I did lately.

      Take the phone list of a company. The internal extensions. Now, not really a highly secure document. Everyone in the company has it. And from a cursory glance, the most dangerous about it is that an external caller could directly connect to some manager and waste his time with a complaint.

      This company solved its door access through an extension. Which should only be callable
  • analog hole (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:43PM (#23633843)
    I can't carry an iPhone, but I can bring home a file folder full of secrets.
    I can't have a cameraphone because I can 'steal' data, but you let me bring my 250GB laptop home.
    My email is filtered for PPI and dirty words, but you don't filter my Gmail.
    I can't FTP, but I can attach 10 MB files to webmails.

    Build a better mousetrap, and some management school out there will produce a stupider monkey.
  • Passwords? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tastecicles (1153671)
    How secure is your password?

    Some examples of common passwords which I saw on multiple occasions on different client boxes:

    typewriter
    sex
    " " (three spaces)
    coffee (a college ICT admin favourite)
    manu ("Man United", if the desktop was soccer themed or the client wore a red shirt, chances were this was his password)
    horses (no prizes)
    swordfish (no prizes)
    0000 (if it's anything that requires a 4-digit user pin, such as Bluetooth, this'd be it)
    0000000000 (the blanket launch code for the US nuclear arsenal)

    Dictiona
  • by kandresen (712861) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:45PM (#23633855)
    I have been wondering about when I would be able to encrypt my cells and pda's the way I encrypt my other data. There is a problem however - the phone must be on in order to get calls... That means the system password is mostly always already in use and thus making it very easy to obtain by cooling down and picking out the RAM and use a card reader.

    So I am hoping for a two stage system where call logs, full content of my address book, notes, calendar and so on is stored and encrypted separately from basic parts of the system. Incoming calls logs could then be stored in a temporary mode until I enter my storage password in which moment I would get access to the secure data using a separate password.

    There are of course problems here too - notifications of upcoming calendar events, and displaying name/number association for incoming calls, among other issues. It will be necessary to allow personal choice for what should be cached outside of secure memory, but I certainly look forward to having a more secure options for Cells and PDA's!
    • And the information you carry in your Address Book, Calender and Notes are *that* valuable to warrant more expensive hardware with encryption? Seriously, myself and most people I know have people's names and numbers in the address book and meetings in the calender and really the worst thing that could happen is that they use that info to do a phishing attack to get more information. For you and a handful of other people this might be useful but for the 99% of us that don't, it just adds more bloat/price to
  • Packet Sniffer (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:47PM (#23633873)
    Chances are, it is more risky to connect to an unencrypted network at a local coffee shop and check your e-mail on your PDA then it is to leave it without a password. I know on my computers the information stored on it is useless to a thief but some e-mails (stored on a remote server) has more confidential information then what is stored on the device (and just about all webmail require you to use a password). So really, for me and most other people, a 1337 H@X0R with Wireshark will do more damage then some guy who steals your PDA/Laptop.
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday June 02, 2008 @09:52PM (#23633909)
    Is this just iPhone fear-mongering?

    Of course it is, because the iPhone is the only PDA or SmartPhone in the world... (If you live under an Apple or a Rock.)
  • Is this just iPhone fear-mongering? Do you think the passwords execs could remember would help with securing PDAs and smart phones?

    I think we first have to ask the question, are executives actually capable of remembering a password? Doubtful, in my opinion.
    • Wouldn't it be reasonable, then, to tell them that until they can remember (not have written down!) a strong password, they can't have any mobile devices, because it's too big of a liability to the company otherwise?

      Of course, possible is another scenario entirely, but that would seem to me to be a reasonable policy.

  • PDAvailable (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Monday June 02, 2008 @10:05PM (#23634001)

    Come on, now. If the information's on a PDA, anybody with the IT version of a bent paperclip will be able to get it.

    What's the first security rule for a PC: If they have physical access to your computer, your data is theirs. I would bet my bottom dollar that 90% of the security problems concerning a PDA result from exactly that: loss of physical control of the device.

  • I've had users laminate their user name and password to their laptop palm rest. Security of information is great and all, but in the end, the user is the weakest link.
  • In each computer desktop, laptop, and smartphone, we installed hardware encryption and a C4 charge with remote 2 tier authentication for detonation. The two tier authentication was introduced after an unfortunate mishap involving our CFO getting his arm blown off while out golfing; it turns out the detonation frequency was a maritime frequency as well.

    The C4 will also detonate if a password is entered incorrectly twice. We encourage employees who are "out of it" or even slightly ill to take the day off, and require them to call IT should they ever type their password in wrong once.

    We also use an operating system completely built in house with a semi AI running security diagnostics at all times, and we have live people watching the network traffic to the few systems that are actively connected to the internet. Any systems that manage to get infected (to date, none) would also receive the C4 treatment. A bit draconian, but it gets the job done. Our datacenters also have thermite ceilings designed to completely melt down the facility if it comes under attack (three armed guards 24/7 are at the red button, just in case some new tech decides to think about hitting the button.)

    Protecting the world has taught us to take our own security seriously. Hopefully, you can learn from these measures and take the proper safeguards for your own facilities and equipment (remember, the answer is always hardware encryption and C4.)

    Thank you,
    Ortega Starfire
    CTO, Hoffman Institute
    For The Advancement of Humanity
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @12:38AM (#23634827)
    A real life example of a job I had a while ago. Security guy at an auditing company for banks. One of the things I had to do was ensure that reports can under no circumstances whatsoever get leaked. I spent the better part of two months locking down servers and creating VPN tunnels to pretty much every bank in the country that we deal with. With foolproof interfaces, point 'n click, so even our auditors could understand it. Double checking that the right document reaches the right bank (because, of course, one of the key security requirements was that no bank may UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES get internal information of other banks). Security was the big thing, and nobody questioned any expense I asked for as long as "for increased security" was somewhere on the application.

    Then we had a conference at a hotel. And suddenly one of our top chiefs in charge comes out of the hotel management area with a report. Asking what this is about, I got this information:

    He forgot to bring this report along so he asked one of our auditors who had the report to send it. From a different bank. Unencrypted. To the hotel. And he asked the hotel manager to print it.

    My question whether he wants to end my life prematurely with a heart attack was met with a blank stare.
  • Ha!HA!Ha! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rts008 (812749) on Tuesday June 03, 2008 @03:23AM (#23635453) Journal
    Security?
    There is none.
    Cell phone users don't seem to care who is around (in listening distance to their conversations) so SECURITY is a moot point!
    I have experienced this while working as a cashier at a local "shit and get" store. Most people are so caught up in their 'own little cellphone world' that they forget about anyone around them.
    Most people are so jaded about their surroundings while talking on cellphones that IT security does not even enter the picture.

    I get so tired of it that I usually toss them out until they finish their conversation.
    Basically, have the respect and courtesy to deal with me and your purchase, or get the fsck out. I don't want to be subjected to your phone conversation. Deal with it.
  • I personally think the real security risk is not necessarily in the data on the PDA but rather the PDA itself. In the cases where an exec has put a password on his/her PDA there is a good chance the passoword used is the same as the office and home PC. Steal the PDA, crack the password, and then use it to get at the real data on the home and work computer. Good passwords aren't enough; enforcing the unique password per account is critical if you are worried about data theft.
  • When I was still at ABB we put PDAs in the same category as remote users. The only way to get inside the WAN from the PDA was to log in through a VPN. If you wanted email on a PDA you either had an outside account for the PDA, or you had to bring up the VPN to check your mail. We applied the same policy on the WLAN I set up, but I believe that's been relaxed in exchange for using a supposedly more secure WLAN login.

    And that was already a concession... a VPN connection makes your device part of the perimeter
  • ...in their right mind uses a "smart phone" for actual work related stuff outside of say, calendars and contacts? And if those calendars and contacts are lost without encryption, what kind of damage could it possibly do? Competitor: "Aha! I see they're having a bake sale next week! Maybe we should slip in and undercut their prices so that they will fail! Rar!!"

    I'm sorry, but since I've gotten my BlackBerry, here's what I do with it: listen to music while I excercise, take pictures of things that inter

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