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Friday, July 09, 2004

Small devices and security concerns via eWeek

As as the cost of RAM chips and hard drives continue to fall, a wide and growing variety of small and inexpensive devices are available with substantial memory capacity. PDAs, cell phones and smartphones typically have up to 64MB onboard, and often support removable media. "Thumbnail drives" can put a gigabyte of storage on a keychain, and portable hard drives can place 80GB in a jacket pocket. Collectively, these devices make possible the uncontrolled transfer of large quantities of data into and out of business networks.The Gartner Group discussing the security risks associated with the proliferation of small USB- and Firewire-enabled electronics and peripherals, says that the cellphone might be a trojan horse.According to the Gartner report, the problem originated with the release of Windows 2000 and the wide deployment of systems able to automatically recognize USB and Firewire connections. This advance placed high-capacity, high-speed and easily connected storage in the hands of end users, and dramatically reduced the control that IT staffs excercise over the flow of data into and out of their networks.Gartner identified two distinct types of threats posed by portable storage devices. First, they can act as a delivery mechanism for viruses and other malicious code that might otherwise be blocked by firewalls and mail servers. Second, they provide an easy method for users to steal large quantities of sensitive corporate data and intellectual property. In response, Gartner suggests a variety of practices for restricting the use of such devices and limiting employee access to sensitive data, ranging from banning portable storage devices entirely to an increased focus on data encryption and digital rights management.A lot more needs to be discussed about the use of micro devices from security perspective.

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