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Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Current State of: Windows Mobile 5.0 Security Tools

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I thought I would create a quick note to discuss my current focus when it comes to IT tools and toys.  As you all know, I’m in the IT security business and one of the side-effects on this is the need to manage my paranoia.  So I know have a Cingular 8125 phone.  A wonderful phone that when I initially received it, I thought was a bit chunky/clunky in look and feel.  But I am now a fan.  Those ultra thin phones might look pretty but in the rough and tumble of daily use, I need power, comfort and agility.  That’s what I get when I use the Cingular 8125.  It is even encroaching on my Rim usage which is pretty amazing.

So this wonderful phone runs Windows Mobile 5.0.  This is great solution unless you start to worry about security.  There is, of course, the obligatory password prompt but with WiFi connectivity, Internet access and Bluetooth, I am looking for a solution to protect not the physical access but the remote access.

I started the search for a set of security tools about two months ago and I have been avidly watching a couple of vendors to see when they are going to do.  There are the normal big players like Symantec, Trend and Mcafee but there are also some niche players like AirScanner (http://www.airescanner.com) and Bluefire (http://www/bluefire.com).  The problem is that none of them are perfect or complete.

What is my wish list of security components?
- A firewall.  This device can connect to networks easily, and I would like to limit the amount of access both incoming and outgoing.  Stateful inspection would be really nice.
- Virus Protection.  Maybe even spam control for incoming and outgoing email and IMs.
- IDS.  A bit of an advanced idea but I would like to at least make it a hassle for someone to try and crack my device remotely.
- Encryption.  This is a big one for me since nowadays we store our personal information, business emails and contacts and loads of sensitive notes.

So what appears to be the state of play when it comes to the vendors:

Mcafee – Hey guys, where is that solution you announced in February(http://www.informationweek.com/hardware/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=180200580&subSection).  I can only seem to find references to a new beta program that you launched in June (http://beta.mcafeemobile.com/). 

Trend – They have a virus protection solution and they will be launching a beta next Monday that adds a firewall.  I signed up for the beta and I will let you know how it goes.

Symantec – Virus protect yes.  Anything else… Couldn’t find it.

CA – They have an antivirus solution.

So moving to the niche players, thinks look promising, but that’s the problem, we are dealing with a vision, not actual product.

AirScanner’s suite looks great.  I don’t know where they get their virus from but I hope it regularly updates itself.  And the encryption solution, looks great.  I will probably try it out.  But, and a big but for me, the firewall doesn’t work with WM 5 and they have a message saying that they are working with Microsoft on resolving that problem but there is no ETA and you would think with the exploding market of WM5, they would want to get that out quickly.  They also have WiFi Scanner but I am not really interested in that and it seems to be very sensitive about the hardware (i.e. there is a list of not supported/never will be supported phones) so be careful before you buy the s/w.

Bluefire – Looks like a very nice product but I haven’t had a chance to play with it since it is only available for enterprise sized organizations.  They are promising a SMB version but there is no ETA.

So where does that leave us.  There is no single solution to protect your Windows Mobile 5.0 phone.

I will probably end up with Airscanner’s encryption and Trends firewall and virus protection.  Bluefire looks very interesting but you it looks like you need to have an infrastructure to manage it, so individual users will luck out here.  Perhaps I can convince them to let me resell their product to users.

If you have comments, don’t hesitate to send to me or if you’re a member, add your comments.
Have fun, keep safe.

Paul

Posted on 08/31
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