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Perry Hutton, FortinetPerry Hutton, Fortinet

Five billion: this is the number of mobile subscribers worldwide, according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Smartphones have definitely invaded our personal lives, making their way to the corporate environment as well.

A few years ago, smartphones were reserved for senior management to help them manage their daily tasks and be more easily reachable. Today, it has become a widespread communications tool for many employees, who use their smartphone as a mobile extension of their computers. Using them, employees can access the corporate network on the go, read their e-mails, answer urgent messages, find directions to attend a meeting, or store a boarding ticket, a presentation or a business report. Small, practical, useful, versatile – smartphones present many advantages, but as the of mobile phones and their related infrastructure is not fully mature yet, they unfortunately may open up companies’ networks to many threats.

Nowadays, companies often require their employees to use a VPN to access the corporate network from their laptops or remote PCs. A VPN allows secure access to corporate networks by encapsulating data transfers, using a cryptographic method. Unfortunately, VPN solutions for mobile devices are not widespread yet.

Facing those technical limitations, system administrators must choose between compromising the of their networks to allow access to mobile phone users, and limiting their access or directing them to another less sensitive network.

Some tips to minimise mobile threats in the corporate environment:
· Deploy anti-virus fi lters at the entry points of the corporate network used by mobile phones (WiFi access points, synchronisation stations);
· Prefer mobile providers that filter mobile traffic to remove and try to provide a clean pipe to their customers;
· Implement solutions from vendors whose threat research includes the detection and protection against dedicated mobile threats;
· Scan communication bills and raise alerts when fees seem abnormal on a given device. This is a frequent symptom of mobile infection; and
· Educate employees on simple precautionary practices to help harden smart devices.

About the author:
Perry Hutton is regional director – Africa at Fortinet