Thirty-five days until the Olympics - will mobile devices be under starter's orders?

Opinion by Chris Russell

With just over five weeks to go, the London Olympics is set to be a social media-fest on an industrial scale.

With just over five weeks to go, the London Olympics is set to be a social media–fest on an industrial scale.

As all of the action is being streamed live over the internet, it is going to be interesting to see how the communications networks will cope under the strain. It is not hard to imagine Twitter and Facebook going into meltdown while irate viewers waiting for live images of Usain Bolt crossing the line to appear on their iPads, long after he has got showered and changed.

While those who believe that everyone in the world is interested in what they had for breakfast could find the experience of a delayed connection to be extremely frustrating, the implications for some businesses could be a lot more serious.

With the practice of bring your own device (BYOD) ever more prevalent, the line between personal and business use of tablet and smartphones is becoming increasingly blurred.

Disregarding the potential impact on the corporate network, as hundreds of employees stream the live blue ribbon events to their tablet devices, there are also some serious security risks that should not be overlooked.

One thing is pretty certain: the hacker community will be out in force trying every malware and phishing trick in the book to grab what they can while people are off their guard. They will be inventing new tricks and reusing old favourites such as offering tempting downloads of exciting content with an Olympic theme, which hide malware or require username and password to access them.

A report published by the US Department of Home Security highlighted that during the 2008 games in Beijing, the Chinese were subjected to over 12 million attacks per day and that hackers began their attacks using London 2012 themes within two months of the Beijing closing ceremony.

With most evidence pointing to the fact that given the choice, people are prone to using the same password for all their online activity – for both business and personal – the security ramifications for companies and individuals cannot be overestimated.

Clearly this is not just a problem that applies to the Olympics but it would make sense for those responsible for corporate security to use the opportunity to remind their users of the risks posed whenever they are accessing their business applications.

Additionally, companies should review their internal user access policies to ensure that if employee Twitter or LinkedIn passwords do fall into the wrong hands the corporate network is not put at risk.

Chris Russell is VP technology at Swivel


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