Mobile phone forensics help companies protect against intellectual property theft

As innovations in technology have enabled people to store vast amounts of data on their cell phones, intellectual property theft is now among one of the biggest threats being combated by security executives.

One company that is giving security managers the tools to fight back is UK-based Radio Tactics, which offers a range of mobile phone forensics solutions for the law enforcement, military and corporate security community. The company's solutions, which are available in kiosk and mobile models, allow end-users to examine SIM cards and other memory cards for critical data.

Radio Tactics CEO and Co-Founder Andy Gill said that the company recently opened a satellite office in Tampa, Fla. One of the company's most promising prospects in the U.S. market, according to Gill, is the military, which he says is educated in mobile phone forensics and the types of actionable intelligence that it can provide.

Gill said the corporate market for phone forensics is "relatively immature," however, the company does have a small group of corporate customers, mainly in the UK, that are making effective use of its technology. These customers are predominately in the financial services sector (both retail and regulatory) or are businesses that require a high level of protection when it comes to intellectual property.

Gill said that Jaguar Land Rover recently deployed the company's technology to not only recover sensitive information from mobile phones, but to also serve as a deterrent.

"That, in effect, would be people using cameras on mobile phones to take pictures of as yet unreleased models of cars or even in one instance, detailed specifications of new vehicles still in development for financial gain by selling them to an outside agency or party," Gill explained.

While the use of smartphones in corporate organizations is prevalent, Gill says that many companies have failed to address the security risks that are associated with them.

"Unfortunately for a lot of companies, although they've invested heavily in server infrastructure to protect the security of what's being conveyed inside e-mails from these devices, they often overlook the localized threats they offer, particularly when it comes to taking photographs or even simpler forms of communication like text messages," he said.

Gill said he expects the corporate market for mobile phone forensics in both Europe and the U.S. to pick up as more awareness is raised about the security threats that cell phones present.

"Normally within corporate governance there is a strong process and strategy in place to manage the risks that computers bring," Gill said. "There is, relatively speaking, very little to bring to the attention of corporations the threats that phones can so easily offer. It strikes me that so far industry, in contrast to government and law enforcement, have found this quite difficult to wake up and recognize."

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