Mobile Security: Q&A with Peter Brockmann, Tech Analyst, Part 1

Posted: June 29, 2010 in Expert Q&A, Industry Commentary
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This week, VPN Haus talks to Peter Brockmann, tech analyst and president of Brockmann & Company. In the first in this two-part series, Brockmann weighs in on the security of mobile devices.

VPN Haus: How are connectivity security issues different for iPhone OS mobile devices vs. the Blackberry or Palm devices?

Peter Brockmann: Modern smartphones are really pocket computers. As such, they exhibit each of the same security risks as their larger computing relatives. They have passwords, sensitive emails, files and critical business applications in their multi-gigabyte on-board flash storage. They can be easily lost; easily stolen. They support WiFi and, as such, can be vulnerable to eavesdropping and Access Point spoofing attacks. Vendors of the leading devices – BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm (3rd parties offer it for Android devices) – offer products and services to overcome these security risks and enable the device to be a solid platform for mobile business computing and communications.

Devices need to be able to be remotely wiped clean including lock out secrets, passwords and public key infrastructure credentials. Devices need to support encrypted data transmissions over WiFi and over 3G/4G/LTE wireless services. Enterprises need to be able to support rollouts of hundreds or thousands of devices at a time and need to update software remotely and implement corporate-wide security policies.

Unfortunately, each of the manufacturers has implemented different server software to achieve the same result. This is unfortunate because the remote access administrator has to use different apps that do the same thing to support these leading devices, which can introduce process errors and slow support responses, not to mention be the cause for administrator error.

VPN Haus: Do you think any mobile device is more secure than the others?

Brockmann: We have no evidence that one is more secure than the other. These three vendors offer back-office management applications effective for large scale enterprise management of mobile devices. They all support encryption for data in transit, local data protection through passwords, remote wipe and data and directory backup services.

VPN Haus: People are now connecting to their corporate networks from hotels, airports, coffee shops, fast food chains, at bars, and even from the mall. What does the proliferation of remote access locations mean for organizations’ network security. Should they limit where their employees can log-in from and is that really enforceable?

Brockmann: Business needs to happen wherever and whenever business can happen. Only the most paranoid of organizations, where the risks to national security or billion dollar transactions are very large and very real, need to be overwhelmingly sensitive to where users do business. For the rest of us, it would be silly to prevent employees from doing business in some public areas versus others, provided that best practices for privacy, eavesdropping and remote wiping can be maintained. Good security policies always have to balance convenience and security.

Stayed tuned to VPN Haus for more from Brockmann on the proliferation of mobile devices, as well as Mac security.

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  1. […] VPN Haus talks to Peter Brockmann, tech analyst and president of Brockmann & Company. In the second post in this two-part series, Brockmann weighs in on the security of mobile devices. See Part 1 of the Q&A here. […]

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