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Insecure Pocket Computers Need Better Security
The US General Accountability Office, the Executive Branch's watchdog, is warning about insecure mobile devices and the need to improve security. GAO explains that "Cyber criminals may use a variety of attack methods, including intercepting data as they are transmitted to and from mobile devices and inserting malicious code into software applications to gain access to users' sensitive information."

GAO states "Given the extent of consumer reliance on mobile interactions, it is increasingly important that these devices be secured from threats to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information they maintain and share."

The independent watchdog, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has warned that spyware installed on smartphones can "intercept voice calls, record them and store them for later transmission," exfiltrate "information on all performed, received and missed calls" and have other privacy invading capabilities.

GAO notes that "Federal agencies and mobile industry companies have taken steps to develop standards for mobile device security" but that "these efforts have been limited in scope, and mobile device manufacturers and carriers do not consistently implement security safeguards on mobile devices." Furthermore, "mobile device manufacturers and wireless carriers do not consistently implement or activate security safeguards on their mobile devices."

Manufacturers, wireless carriers, operating system and application developers, and consumers all have to take steps to protect the cybersecurity of mobile devices. While there is no substitute for consumer responsibility, the threat of regulation and litigation against manufacturers is growing. GAO notes that earlier this year the US Federal Trade Commission "reached a settlement of an unfair practice case with a company after alleging that its mobile application was likely to cause consumers to unwittingly disclose personal files...."

Unless all responsible parties exercise greater responsibility, it seems only a matter of time before the mobile device industry will be governed through regulation by litigation, an outcome that would serve only trial lawyers.

See GAO report

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