THE WRAP: EC flags net security weakness; Smartphone malware on the rise

Michael Carroll
23 Mar 2012

Web security and privacy topped the headlines this week, with the European Commission calling for cross-border efforts to protect against cyber attacks, Orange pledging to deliver a ‘data dashboard’ to subscribers, US employers demanding access to jobseeker’s Facebook pages, and Google facing scrutiny from French and US authorities.

Neelie Kroes, the EC’s digital agenda commissioner, said more work is needed on cyber attack protection during a roundtable discussion on Internet security. She noted the motivation for attacks has increased, and referenced the ease with which attacks can now be carried out – telling attendees some 25,000 pieces of malware could have been written during their meeting alone.

The commissioner gave the first details of an EC web security strategy during the talk, which puts the onus on member states to develop responses to the growing threat, and establish bodies responsible for sharing information on attacks. The strategy will be unveiled in full during the third quarter.

Kroes' call to arms came just after the global head of Nokia Siemens security solutions business warned that smartphones are increasingly at risk of cyber attack, as penetration of the devices grows.

Thorsten Schneider says smartphone malware is increasing as scammers see increasing value in the data stored on the devices, and noted that operators must take the lead in protecting corporate and private customers.

France Telecom chief Stéphane Richard tackled the thorny subject of how consumer’s personal data is handled by telcos and other businesses, pledging to deploy a ‘data dashboard’ allowing subscribers to monitor the information they share with the telco within the next three years.

Richard made the promise during a meeting with Kroes, where he also pledged to launch commercial 4G services in Orange’s European markets by 2015, and 3G in its Middle East and African markets over the same timeframe.

However, all the privacy policies in the world are useless if reports some US employers are asking jobseekers to reveal their Facebook passwords are true.

The move has been necessitated by recent changes to the social network’s privacy policy, which restricts the amount of public access to user’s profiles.

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