But, of course, mobile devices add another dimension to the security problem: They're small, light and really easy to steal. To make matters worse, these devices are considered cool by many would-be thieves who may just want the device, not your information. The problem is that you have no way to know who may walk off with the latest version of the BlackBerry Bold or T-Mobile G2-it could be a thief who just wants it because it's a cool device, or it could be a thief who wants your company's secrets.
And that's not all. Because these devices can go nearly anywhere on the Internet that your computer can, they're also vulnerable to malware. It's not necessarily the same malware that might infect your PC, but it's malware none the less. It can be used to track passwords, banking information or simply to copy your e-mails to a server half way around the world.
Malware is a problem for many devices, but when you add the fact that you can easily steal the device, you up your security risk significantly. After all, if the thief is intent on getting to information critical to your business, or to private information contained in data on the device, they can probably figure out a way given unlimited access to the device and enough time. This is where PC security systems and mobile device security diverge.
While it's easy enough to steal a laptop computer, and there are plenty of cases where desktop computers and servers have been pilfered, following good physical security practices will reduce the risk. With mobile devices, good physical security is harder to arrange. For this reason, many of the security suites available for these devices include things that your average PC security software doesn't. For example, these devices usually have GPS receivers embedded, so you can track their whereabouts.
When the security software has been triggered, the GPS information can be sent to a pre-defined e-mail address. You can also prevent access to sensitive information, or instruct the machine to perform a remote wipe. There's even a feature in Kaspersky's software that will signal the owner of a mobile device when the SIM card is replaced in an effort to prevent recovery, and report the new phone number and the GPS location of the device.
While mobile devices have seen less of a problem with security issues (other than loss and theft) than some other computers, there have already been reports of Android trojans. There are a number of social engineering attacks that attempt to get users to load malware infected files. It's becoming a very wild world out there, and it's critical that enterprises keep a close watch on their mobile devices, just as they do with the rest of their computers. There are a number of companies that provide protection for mobile devices, including Kaspersky, McAfee and Symantec. Unfortunately, the time has arrived when it's just as important to get acquainted with those as you have with your company's IPS and security software.