By Maximilian Clarke

The proliferation of smartphones is now putting companies, whose security was previously watertight, at risk, claimed Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of VAD Wick Hill Group, specialists in secure infrastructure solutions and convergence.

Kilpatrick was speaking as the company announced a new partnership with US vendor Fiberlink, to distribute the MaaS360 mobile device management solution, a range of cloud-based products for managing and securing mobile devices (principally smartphones and tablets) in the UK.

“Despite multiple mobile device loss and security breaches, and the recent events at News International,” said Kilpatrick, “UK business has still not taken on board the security risks of unfettered use of mobile devices such as smartphones.”

The problem has increased exponentially because smartphone and mobile device use has mushroomed in the last couple of years. According to Gartner, sales of mobile devices in the second quarter of 2011, grew 16.5 percent year-on-year. Smartphone sales grew 74 percent year-on-year and accounted for 25 percent of overall sales in the second quarter of 2011, up from 17 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

Kilpatrick pointed out that users just don’t seem to recognise that today’s smartphone has the same sort of power that laptops had just a few years ago. 32Gb of storage and up to 1Gb of RAM is common. Smartphones are effectively small computers on which you can have a telephone conversation. Tablets too have similar storage and memory capabilities.

And like laptops, said Kilpatrick, smartphones need protection from hackers and criminals if they are lost or stolen. They are at risk from malware and viruses, and they are at risk when they connect into the company network.

Kilpatrick highlighted the difficulties companies face. “The problem for companies today,” he said, “is not just the insecurity of the individual smartphone, it is also the sheer numbers of them, the diversity of operating environments (Android, IOS, etc.) and the fact that employees use smartphones for both personal and business activity. It makes it difficult to monitor and track all the smartphones that are being used to store company data and access the company network, which causes major security issues.”

“With MaaS360, organisations can monitor and control their mobile devices from one, easy-to-use management console, making it simple to embrace personal iPhones, iPads, and Androids,” said Steve Hammond, president international sales for Fiberlink. “Through an innovative cloud delivery model, MaaS360 lets companies deploy and manage mobile devices and applications in minutes, reducing the cost of supporting the new mobile enterprise. It’s truly the only way to effectively manage these devices.”

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