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"Low-Cost Smartphones, Tablets Compromise On Security"
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"Low-Cost Smartphones, Tablets Compromise On Security"  
"There has to be some kind of standard, which needs to be established for these end-point devices that must be complied with by each manufacturer. There should be a check by the Indian government on the OEMs that enter the market. Complying with the defined parameters should be made mandatory."   
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012 Are you planning to buy a low-cost smartphone or a tablet? Well, if yes, you got to read this one. Low-cost devices can lead to cyber threat for you. At a time when companies are adopting the concept of Bring-Your-Own-Device, India needs to be awake about cyber security and the devices that are prone to online threats. EFYTimes.com spoke exclusively to Saurabh Agarwal, deputy general manager- Information Security, Uninor about security issues involved with low-cost smartphones and tablets and measures needed to ensure security of data.

The concept of BYOD is very much in and enterprises are promoting it in a major way. But it comes as a risk to the security of the enterprises. How do you see this concept in terms of cyber security of enterprises?

If you have to catch up with the changing time, BYOD is one concept that you cannot avoid, especially in a market like India, which is seeing an explosion in the space of mobile devices. But yes, having said that, there is a huge amount of risk when it comes to authenticating those devices into the network. There are infinite number of low cost devices, which leads to a situation where cost and speed get more mileage than security because of their poor application architecture and poor operating systems. I feel there should be some kind of heterogeneous end-point protection system, which should be equally installable at all the platforms, which can ensure the end-consumer that he is cyber safe. Despite much awareness about cyber threats, cyber security is really not the priority of most of the people. People just want to hook up to the internet or social networking platforms and start surfing. They don't understand the implications about their privacy, data or security being compromised. I think the awareness level has to be increased. So when a device is being purchased by a corporate user or by an end-consumer, they should actually know what are the basic checks they need to make in the equipment.

Low cost Android Tablets, Cheap Android tablets in India, Cheap tablets in India, Cheap smartphones in India, cyber security, BYOD, BYOD in Indian companies, Uninor, Android OEMs

What are the basic checks according to you that one needs to ensure?

Number one criteria according to me is that it should be a product, which comes from a popular organisation. In a growing market like India, you will find many small time players who are flooding the market with smartphones and tablets that are relatively insecure. I am not saying that the ones, which are low on the value chain are not good but all I am saying is that there has to be some security mechanism, which should be built into the overall development of that device, whether it is a tablet or a smartphone. The idea is to ensure that the device is compatible and secure to make that consumer Internet-ready.

What are the other challenges apart from the low-cost devices?

I think one major challenge is a variety of devices hitting the network. For example, if a company give laptops to its employees, they will have same set of anti-virus solutions, operating systems, etc. So the companies largely know what kind of stuff is available, what are the different patching mechanism and what are the patching files. So they don't have to deploy different solutions because it is the company which is actually giving the machines. But with BYOD coming into play, the employer does not have any control on what kind of device the employee is getting. I feel the employers should issue a check list, to make sure it is secure for their network, mentioning the configuration that should be available in the devices or may be strike a bundled deal with any OEM and get everyone on the same platform.

Do you think Indian organisations are ready for a concept like BYOD?

I think most of the organisations in India that are in the growing stage, understand the importance of this concept. Because in a country like India, cost factor is huge. Sooner or later, the organisation would also want to get away with the system of giving the devices. They would probably want to welcome employees on a BYOD concept subject to certain security limitations. Managing assets is also a very big challenge, especially in enterprises.

Do you think restrictions like these can work in a country like India which is flooded with low-cost devices?

I think this is where government should pitch in. Government has to take up some initiatives. I think security needs to take the right position in the overall development of the product. Unfortunately, India as a country is too-much cost-centric no matter what the quality or security paradigm of the gadget is. Till the time the device falls in our budget, we are happy to pay a price for it and own it. There has to be some kind of standard, which needs to be established for these end-point devices that must be complied with by each manufacturer. There should be a check by the Indian government on the OEMs that enter the market. Complying with the defined parameters should be made mandatory. The kind of attacks that are coming into the cyber world are very different from what they used to be. So the government needs to intervene and impose some restrictions on the OEMs manufacturing the smartphones and tablets.

Diksha  P Gupta, EFYTIMES News Network

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