Smartphones and other high-end wireless devices now commonly used in the enterprise may pose significant security risks for telecoms and IT departments that do not take adequate measures to protect network resources, according to the latest report from research firm Light Reading.
The report identifies the potential entry points of malware programs and assesses the threat level that each potential troublespot poses to the enterprise.
These include viruses that target the operating systems driving leading mobile devices, such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry.
Some malware can infect a handset and jump to a PC during syncing, extending the security risk to all enterprise IT resources, the report claims.
But while most mobile viruses cause minimal damage to handsets and their stored data, the costs of lost user productivity and increased IT support can be significant.
Moreover, enterprises cannot depend on carriers or vendors to analyse threats, and should assess products and generate their own solutions, according to Light Reading.
"The rapid uptake of advanced wireless devices by the enterprise workforce is making malware a more serious threat to telecoms and IT resources," said Tim Kridel, research analyst and author of the report.
"This makes it possible to write a single piece of malware that targets a pool of potential victims numbering in the hundreds of thousands, or even millions."
Kridel warned that malware writers are very good at identifying and exploit ing all of the ways that data moves in and out of wireless devices.
"Viruses are routinely hidden in games that users download over the wireless network. Others are transferred via Bluetooth or downloaded when the user clicks on a link in a message," he said.
"A few can enter a phone one way and exit another. Therefore it is necessary to implement anti-malware tools and policies to address all possible scenarios and points of vulnerability."
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