|Trends are converging in scary ways: Anti-virus scanning tools are not what they use to be, yet everyone's taking their work on the road.|
Just like with the digital democratization -- and devaluation -- of music, print and movie content, the software that scans for bad software is itself under intense value pressure. Major software firms such as Symantec
As productive -- and cool -- as accessing your company data on Ultrabooks, iPads or iPhones is, clearly the security of the information on these tools is not well understood. The scuttlebutt here is Android-based platforms are particularly vulnerable. Android is an open architecture with a more loosely managed App market. There was a big exploit called GeoFeeBot -- an Android malware app that, once installed on a phone, quietly sends billable SMS messages -- running up massive expenses.
Get ready for this: Businesses are no longer merely sweating the independent kid hacker looking for street cred or the organized criminal looking for a payout. There is a new generation of government-hired digital data collector whose job it is to get information anywhere they can. Here's the logic: For better or worse, pretty much every nation on earth maintains some sort of internal intelligence bureaucracies. These state-sponsored information-gathering services were traditionally aimed at domestic citizens. What's happening is as these overseas data collection efforts grow and security tools become more widely available, even moderate-sized countries now run sophisticated data collection systems that work globally. The line between benign data collection and outfight attack is blurry. But it is a certainty that it's not just one Big Brother that's watching us; now there is whole extended family of nosey digital relatives whose goal in life is to get our stuff.
In such an environment, there is simply no excuse for not doing the basics of company security. Keep all your software on all your devices -- that means PCs, Macs, mobile phones, tablets -- up to date. If you're sitting on an old computer running old software, get rid of it. Use robust passwords and change them often. And please, don't nickel and dime on support for your business software. If something does go south, you want as many resources to call on as possible. But this year's RSA show genuinely frightened me. And think it should frighten you too.