Hold on to footloose handhelds.

PositionHandheld computers - Brief Article

The use of handheld computers is set to increase by over 50 per cent in the next few years, according to a survey by the Gartner Group. More than a billion handheld computers and mobile phones with wireless network connectivity will be used worldwide by 2003. This is great news for technology buffs, but it's a nightmare for IT security staff as handheld devices are often the weakest link in a firm's security system.

More people are using laptops and handhelds to store valuable and confidential data which if lost or stolen can put a company at serious risk of sabotage, exploitation or damage to their professional integrity. Last year a fighter pilot lost his laptop containing hundreds of unencrypted top-secret diagrams. It was brought to the world's attention when a national newspaper handed the laptop back to an embarrassed Ministry of Defence representative.

While companies spend billions of pounds a year on IT security systems for desktop computers, little is invested in securing the mobile workforce. Even when handhelds have a security device automatically installed, users often try to circumvent them because of the time and hassle involved in using them. Once these are turned off, the devices are easy pickings for anyone wanting to steal confidential information. A stolen handheld can even be used to get past the corporate firewall and into the main network.

Eight steps to securing your handheld

  1. Introduce a security policy and communicate it to employees. Staff must be warned of the security implications of mobile devices and advised of the action that will be taken if they ignore the policy.

  2. ...

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