Guidelines on Cell Phone and PDA Security

Cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) have become indispensable tools for today's highly mobile workforce. Small and relatively inexpensive, these devices can be used for many functions, including sending and receiving electronic mail, storing documents, delivering presentations, and remotely accessing data. While these devices provide productivity benefits, they also pose new risks to organizations.

This document provides an overview of cell phone and PDA devices in use today and offers insights into making informed information technology security decisions on their treatment. The document gives details about the threats and technology risks associated with the use of these devices and the available safeguards to mitigate them. Organizations can use this information to enhance security and reduce incidents involving cell phone and PDA devices.

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The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of cell phone and PDA devices in use today and offer insight into making informed information technology security decisions on their treatment. The discussion gives details about the threats, technology risks, and safeguards for these devices.

This document may be used by organizations interested in enhancing security to reduce related security incidents for current and future use of handheld devices. This document presents generic principles that apply to all such systems.

This guideline does not cover the following aspects relating to securing handheld devices:

  • Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPC) that have the same characteristics as tablet or notebook computers, but in a very compact format
  • MP3 players, cameras, calculators, and other handheld devices that are not typically used in organizational tasks or have limited textual information processing capabilities
  • USB flash memory drives or pocket-size removable hard drives with USB, FireWire, or other high-speed interfaces
  • Removable media, such as rewritable CDs, floppy drives, and zip drives not normally supported by handheld devices.