While the BYOD (bring your own device) push has been at the forefront of press coverage, the majority of companies still provide at least a subset of devices to employees. One third of companies strictly mandate which devices can be used for work purposes and don’t allow any type of device provided by the employee, according to the survey conducted by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), a nonprofit trade group.
The online survey of 502 U.S. IT and business executives was conducted in February. It also found that the most popular option, at 58%, was to have a mix of corporate-owned and employee-owned devices.
For 53% of those surveyed, the top reason for allowing employees to use or select their own devices was to increase productivity while employees are away from the office. Another reason was that employees like to use familiar devices.
Twelve percent of the respondents stated it was simply too difficult to stop employees from using their own devices.
CompTIA’s report said that companies looking to maximize the benefits of a mobile device-enabled workforce must “look beyond simply which devices are used and re-examine business processes and workforce needs.”
Companies should assess the specific needs of workers, rather than just deploying one device over another on a corporate-wide basis, said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, at CompTIA.
Researchers Nikita Tarakanov and Oleg Kupreev analyzed the security of 3G/4G USB modems obtained from Russian operators for the past several months. Their findings were presented Thursday at the Black Hat Europe 2013 security conference in Amsterdam.
Most 3G/4G modems used in Russia, Europe, and probably elsewhere in the world, are made by Chinese hardware manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, and are branded with the mobile operators’ logos and trademarks, Tarakanov said. Because of this, even if the research was done primarily on Huawei modems from Russian operators, the results should be relevant in other parts of the world as well, he said.
Tarakanov said that they weren’t able to test baseband attacks against the Qualcomm chips found inside the modems because it’s illegal in Russia to operate your own GSM base station if you’re not an intelligence agency or a telecom operator. “We’ll probably have to move to another country for a few months to do it,” he said.
There’s still a lot to investigate in terms of the hardware’s security. For example, the SoC (system on a chip) used in many modems has Bluetooth capability that is disabled from the firmware, but it might be possible to enable it, the researcher said.
For now, the researchers tested the software preloaded on the modems and found multiple ways to attack it or to use it in attacks.
For one, it’s easy to make an image of the USB modem’s file system, modify it and write it on the modem again. There’s a tool available from Huawei to do modem backup and restore, but there are also free tools that support modems from other manufacturers, Tarakanov said.
Malware running on the computer could detect the model and version of the active 3G modem and could write an image with malicious customizations to it using such tools. That modem would then compromise any computer it’s used on.
The researchers also found a possible mass attack vector. Once installed on a computer, the modem application — at least the one from Huawei — checks periodically for updates from a single server, Tarakanov said. Software branded for a specific operator searchers for updates in a server directory specific to that operator.
An attacker who manages to compromise this update server, can launch mass attacks against users from many operators, Tarakanov said. Huawei 3G modems from several different Russian operators used the same server, but there might be other update servers for other countries, he said.
Research in this area is just at the beginning and there’s more to investigate, Tarakanov said. Someone has to do it because many new laptops come with 3G/4G modems directly built in and people should know if they’re a security threat.
Greenpeace’s “Guide to Greener Electronics” is a 16 company ranking that sets out to discover what leading electronics firms are doing to reduce their impacts on the environment.
This year’s study found that Indian firm Wipro, which has a consumer electronics division, was making important progress toward becoming greener.
“There is not a single reason why companies like HP, Nokia and Apple can’t do what Wipro is doing,” Greenpeace’s IT analyst Casey Harrell said.
Wipro was ranked number one in Greenpeace’s survey because of its efforts to increase its use of renewable energy, bring energy efficient products to market, nail down an effective product take back strategy and advocate for better governmental energy standards.
Harrell said that advocacy is an important step companies should take to becoming more environmentally aware. However, he believes that many companies are not doing enough to get the government involved in green initiatives.
“These companies invest a lot of money in advocacy, just not for energy,” continued Harrell.
“They invest in advocacy for things like IP reform and tax reform, just not for energy policy reform.”
Greenpeace’s study criticized Apple for its lack of advocacy efforts. The environmental agency gave the Iphone maker a ranking of zero when it came to environmental protection advocacy.
Apple has previously been slammed by Greenpeace for its decision to use glued-in batteries in its latest Macbook devices.
While many US companies rated poorly on environmental advocacy, Harrell still held out hope that some firms will try to do more going forward. As an example for his optimism, Greenpeace’s IT analyst said that in 2010 HP came out against the controversial California Proposition 23.
Another key area that Greenpeace thinks electronic firms need to improve upon is the lack of proper warranties on devices. Harrell said that companies can make the most energy efficient products in the world but if consumers have to buy a new product each year it won’t matter.
“It is a huge problem,” said Harrell.
Could 4G Networks give way for more high-risk mobile security implications; Symantec is warning of such a wave of threats.
“We could see a move to the sort of threats that we already see on the wireless and fixed connected network,” John said. “Malware that you usually have on fixed networks, like botnets.
“There aren’t many botnets on mobile devices because the bandwidth’s not there to support it, once you go on to 4G [hackers] could start infecting systems.”
To ensure that enterprises avoid these these security threats, John advised that businesses need to be on their toes more than ever, look closely at everything that’s coming into the network, and not trust anything.
“Companies need to make sure that where traditionally it’s been a firewall with a perimeter with everything in a timeline environment,” John said. “What they need to look at is ‘what are my employees doing’, ‘what information is being shared’ and ‘how do we ensure our information is being protected no matter where it may be’, whether its mobile device, across networks or sitting in a cloud service.”
“This is a change we are going through, but 4G is going to push the need for that change even more so,” she added.
According to John, 4G will also be detrimental to businesses in the way it will add a greater burden for them to ensure that cloud services and mobility – what she calls “two of the biggest security challenges for enterprises and their employees” – are up to scratch.
Intel on Monday spent US$375 million to purchase nearly 1,700 wireless networking patents from subsidiaries of digital communications company Interdigital.
Intel will get patents that cover a range of 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi technologies from Interdigital. The patents should boost Intel’s product mobile product portfolio as the company establishes a presence in the smartphone and tablet markets, which is currently ruled by ARM.
Intel has said it will integrate 3G and 4G LTE capabilities along with its Atom microprocessor in devices like smartphones and tablets. Intel made its first entry into the smartphone market earlier this year with its Atom chip code-named Medfield, which is being used in handsets from Lenovo, Orange and Lava International.
Intel later this year will release a dual-core Atom Z2580 processor with 3G, 4G and LTE capabilities. Intel’s upcoming Atom chip for tablets, code-named Clover Trail, will also come with mobile broadband options.
Intel started building its wireless business following the acquisition of Infineon Wireless for $1.4 billion, which was completed last year.
Wireless is a fast-changing market, and the company is making this investment to support the business, according to Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman.
“This was an opportunity to add some value to our patent portfolio. That’s over and above what we have,” Mulloy said.
Cellular phones squashed Iridium once, but in its second coming the satellite phone maker and owner of the biggest satellite fleet is relying on them to resurrect their business.
For all their seeming ubiquity, cellular services cover only about 8 percent of the globe, leaving large regions where the only way to communicate is to use a satphone made by Iridium Communications Inc or one of its smaller competitors.
“The need for communication devices and services where terrestrial can’t be there is rising, and as bandwidth needs increase it’s surely helping Iridium,” Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong said.
Investors have taken notice, pushing up the stock of the company nearly 50 percent over the past eight months.
“It’s a different company, with a prudent and successful financial model,” Raymond James analyst Chris Quilty said.
“They’re growing, they have extraordinarily high barriers to entry and some of the end markets and applications they’re targeting are vast and untapped,” he said.
Unlike its competitors, Iridium’s satellite constellation covers the entire globe, including the poles, and its array of 66 satellites dwarfs the fleets of its rivals. Inmarsat Plc has 11; GlobalStar has eight and is aiming to have 32 in orbit by the year-end; Thuraya has three, with one planned.
Privacy groups and lawmakers are pushing for a new and more expansive investigation into Google and its privacy practices after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that it found no evidence that the company violated eavesdropping laws.
Late last week, the FCC reported that there was no legal precedent to find fault with Google collecting unprotected home Wi-Fi data, such as personal email, passwords and search histories, with its roaming Street View cars between 2007 and 2010.
However, the FCC did fine Google $25,000 for obstructing its investigation.
A Google spokesperson took issue with the fine.
“We disagree with the FCC’s characterization of our cooperation in their investigation and will be filing a response,” said the spokesperson in an email to Computerworld. “It was a mistake for us to include code in our software that collected payload data, but we believe we did nothing illegal. We have worked with the relevant authorities to answer their questions and concerns.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a national privacy watchdog, disagreed with the FCC findings.
In a letter sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today, EPIC asked that the Department of Justice investigate Google’s surreptitious collecting of Wi-Fi data from residential networks.
“Given the inadequacy of the FCC’s investigation and the law enforcement responsibilities of the attorney general, EPIC urges the Department of Justice to investigate Google’s collection of Wi-Fi data from residential Wi-Fi networks,” wrote Mark Rotenberg, executive director of the advocacy group.
“By the [FCC's] own admission, the investigation conducted was inadequate and did not address the applicability of federal wiretap law to Google’s interception of emails, usernames, passwords, browsing histories and other personal information,” Rotenberg added.
PayPal is focusing on small businesses, service providers, and casual sellers on the move with its new PayPal Here service which allows vendors to process a variety of payments including checks and cards using their mobile phones.
The new service unveiled Thursday includes a free app and encrypted thumb-sized card reader, which allows merchants with an iPhone, and later Android smartphones, to process payments.
Merchants can accept payments by swiping cards in the card reader, scanning cards and checks using their phone cameras, or by entering card information manually into the app, the eBay unit said. They can also send an invoice and set payment terms, and accept PayPal payments from the app. The check facility is however only available in the U.S.
An iPhone version of the card reader and merchant app is available from Thursday to select merchants in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, with general availability in those countries scheduled for April. PayPal also plans to have an Android version of the merchant app by then. It will announce the availability of the service in more countries soon, it said.
Merchants pay a flat rate of 2.7 percent for card swipes and PayPal payments, while checks will be processed free of charge. Scanning of cards or typing the card information will be charged extra. PayPal Here merchants will also receive a business debit card for access to cash and 1 percent cash-back on eligible purchases.
PayPal will be competing with mobile payment systems from other providers such as Square and Intuit.
The key differentiator for PayPal Here in comparison to other small business mobile payment services is that it comes from a trusted brand in the online payments industry, with more than 100 million customers globally, David Marcus, vice president of mobile at PayPal said in a blog post.
Samsung is apparently rethinking its decision not to bring Android 4 to the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab.
Earlier the company stated that neither device could be updated due to the size of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. The news created a bit of an issue with users sharpening scythes, pitchforks and lighting torches to go on a lynching. Now word on the street is that the company is considering backing down on its decision due to “strong customer demand.”
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T’s US$1.9 billion buying of spectrum from Qualcomm on Thursday, allowing the carrier to salvage one ambitious deal to acquire more spectrum, after squashing its planned merger with T-Mobile USA.
AT&T announced its plan to buy the Qualcomm spectrum last December, a few months before it revealed the much larger proposal to merge with T-Mobile for $39 billion. It said both were motivated by the need for more radio spectrum to increase the coverage and capacity of its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. AT&T withdrew the T-Mobile plan on Monday after the FCC, the Department of Justice and others said it was not in the public interest.
With the Qualcomm purchase, AT&T will get 6MHz of spectrum across the country in the coveted 700MHz band, as well as another 6MHz of spectrum in five major metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the FCC’s order released Thursday. Those five markets represent about 70 million potential subscribers. The carrier has said it plans to use it as a supplemental downlink for its LTE network, allowing for faster and more consistent mobile data service.