Encryption expert warns over Xmas PDA data theft

Hackers are looking forward to a late Christmas present of PDAs crammed with company data, according to encryption expert.

Business users getting PDAs and other handheld devices for Christmas are warned to not to lose these devices and important company data stored on them, a security expert warned.

Peter Larsson, CEO of data encryption company Pointsec said people should consider the consequences of losing a device and any confidential information stored on them. He said that if a device is lost and in the wrong hands could seriously jeopardise a company by exposing them to a whole episode of exploits.

"You should seriously back up all the information on your mobile device. Stop for a minute and think about the consequences of losing your mobile device," he said.

"What ramifications would it have to you, your family and friends, your colleagues, customers and company if your data fell into the wrong hands?"

He said people concerned about data theft should make use of the security functions on the device or "encrypt it so that no-one but yourself can access the information."

Larsson pointed to a recent survey carried out by the company which showed that 54,874 mobile phones, 4,718 handhelds or Pocket PCs, 3,179 laptops and 923 USB sticks/thumb drives have been left in the back of London licensed taxis in the last 6 months. Airports prove to be just as bad with around 730 laptops and 1460 mobile phones left at Heathrow airport in the past year.

He said that message to all businesses is clear; "if you do not secure your employees' mobile devices you are putting your company at risk."

"You need to assess your exposure and then decide how to reduce it. Take action now; or be prepared to give hackers, exploiters, extortionists and thieves a very merry New Year," said Larsson.

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