Businesses urged to shore up their mobile defences

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Device theft is the number one threat to data, Symbian warns.

Symbian chief security technologist Craig Heath has urged businesses to do more to prevent data breaches from stolen mobile devices, including ensuring the PIN function is activated on all handsets.

Speaking at a roundtable event hosted by anti-virus software vendor AVG this week, Heath said the physical loss of phones was the number one cause of information leaks, ahead of malware or phishing scams.

"Devices can contain personal information, business data, contacts and emails, all of which could be accessed if the device is not locked. Human error is impossible to eliminate, so it's important the device PIN is used to keep information secure," Heath said.

However, he maintained that the mobile industry is currently ahead of the hackers with regards to security, adding that smartphones are the safest way to use the internet at the moment as their security features are better than those of PCs.

Also at the event, JR Smith, chief executive of AVG, reminded IT chiefs to take the lead on mobile security.

"A core part of the responsibility for technology officers is to make sure they are aware of threats coming from mobile devices, and to stop anything that does get in from spreading, as well as making sure company information is not getting out," he said.

The rise in the use of mobile devices to access social networking sites, specifically Facebook, was also noted, and Richard Thompson, chief research officer at AVG, said the applications on the site concerned him.

"Facebook has said it has over one million people designing applications for its site. It would be surprising if some of those people were not designing applications with sinister intentions," he said.

However, both Thompson and Heath said Facebook was always quick to take down malicious applications detected on its site.

Heath also said he welcomed the new privacy changes that the site introduced last week as they made it simpler for users to make their profiles more secure.

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