Top 3 mobile device dangers – and how to avoid them

The increased use of mobile computing devices creates a whole new set of security challenges for IT managers. Here are the top dangers, and how you can help minimize them:

1. Phishing attacks

Smartphones are becoming more like computers, so it makes sense that many strategies cycbercriminals have used to attack PC users are now being used on folks with smartphones.

And in some cases, those strategies work better on mobile users. When people use smartphones, they’re three times as likely to fall for phishing scams, according to a recent survey by Internet security firm Trusteer.

One reason is likely that the small screen and modified website layouts can make it more difficult for users to tell the difference between legitimate sites and their phony counterparts set up to steal data.

The solution: Train users to avoid all types of phishing scams, with particular attention paid to when they’re using smartphones.

2. Loss and theft

Smartphones used for work purposes can contain a lot of sensitive data. That’s why the frequency with which smartphones are lost or stolen can sound especially scary.

For example, in 2009, 85,000 cell phones were left in taxi cabs in Chicago alone. It’s likely a good chunk of those were company-issued smartphones.

Again, training can go a long way toward getting users to be careful about their mobile devices.

Further, all devices should be password protected and able to be remotely wiped. And there are many applications out there that can help users locate lost or stolen smartphones.

3. Mobile malware

Many experts, including systems giant Cisco, predict that 2011 will be the year a wave of malware arrives to attack mobile devices.

It makes sense: The devices are becoming more popular and haven’t yet had the kind of advanced security tools developed for them that PCs have.

Experts recommend staying a step ahead of the hackers by investing in the smartphone security tools that are available. Keeping tight control over what applications users install on their company-issued phones can also go a long way toward keeping out malware.