For the first time in history, the number of smartphones sold worldwide exceeded the number of PC sales in the fourth quarter of 2010: 100 million smartphones versus 92 million PCs. In fact, smartphones grew 72 percent in 2010. Tablets are not far behind. More than 17 million tablets were sold last year and Gartner forecasts 2011 tablet sales will reach almost 45 million. That is a remarkable 164 percent growth rate.
This is indeed a historic turning point, so what does it mean for the enterprise?
Mobile device security is one of the top concerns, according to the 2011 (ISC)2 Global Information Security Workforce Study by Frost & Sullivan. With the rise of devices, especially those accessing the corporate network, it is easy to understand why. Another recent study on pcmag.com specifically identified the top mobile device security concerns of CIOs. Here are some highlights:
-76 percent believe employee-owned mobile devices are security risks to the network
-78 percent don’t know what devices are connected to the corporate network
-33 percent are not able to track data on company-issued devices
-44 percent of businesses are not able to secure lost or stolen devices
These studies validate the concerns regarding mobile device security. The Technologies for securing mobile devicesbiggest threat is malware, or malicious software, where users are deceived into downloading infected content and applications. McAfee reports the number of pieces of new mobile malware in 2010 increased by 46 percent. We can expect this number to further increase as more mobile devices enter the market.
Enterprises are finding success with several technologies available today. The most widely used mobile device security technologies include mobile encryption, secure network access management, VPNs, mobile device management, and the kill switch (remote lock and wipe functionality).
The next security move is to the cloud. Says Phil Hochmuth from IDC, “Many enterprise security teams now regard cloud-based security technology as the best approach to provide effective security controls that allow non-corporate mobile devices to mix safely with enterprise networks, applications, and data.” More employees are choosing to access the corporate network with their own mobile devices. At the same time, malware and cyber-attacks are exploding. The cloud is compelling since it is best positioned to handle the various devices and applications in the market at a lower cost than IT organizations.
As effective as the cloud can be, mobile device security will require additional layers of protection. Similar to enterprise network security, where security is built into the network layer, we are starting to see security built into the computer chips of mobile devices. Intel is one of the first to integrate security technology, making it easier for businesses to remotely manage the security on devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. As malware and cyber-attacks continue to penetrate the mobile sphere, every layer of protection will help.