Microsoft said it has boosted the security mechanisms built into its newest mobile phone operating system, responding to the needs of business customers who will use the phones to access sensitive corporate data.
One new feature in Windows Mobile 6.0, the latest version of the software introduced on Monday, allows users to remotely wipe their device if it's stolen. Via a secure connection to their corporate Microsoft Exchange server, users can remotely delete content on the phone, including data stored on a removable storage card. Previously, only an IT administrator could schedule a remote wipe, said Marianne Roling, director of mobile embedded devices for Europe, Middle East and Africa for Microsoft, at 3GSM in Barcelona.
In addition, Windows Mobile 6.0 supports Windows Mobile Updates, a new policy similar to the security updates sent to PC Windows users. If a mobile virus surfaces, Microsoft will build a fix and work closely with operator partners who will send a message to users informing them that there's a security update. The message will ask users to approve the update before downloading.
Most such security updates would be small files but it's up to the operator to decide if they'll charge end users for the bandwidth required to download it, said Roling. "If you are a customer of Vodafone and all your company's data is on your phone, guess how your customer loyalty will improve if Vodafone provides you with this."
So far, few viruses have targeted mobile devices and those that have surfaced have failed to become widespread. However, mobile industry experts worry that as more users buy smartphones and begin downloading more online content, hackers may begin to target phone users.
Microsoft's update service could work even for individuals who buy an unlocked phone independently of their operator, she said. That's because the operator can often detect remotely what type of phone the user has and so would be able to identify Windows Mobile users.
Windows Mobile 6.0 also supports some new rights management features. Now, users will be able to view e-mails that are sent with protection that allows recipients to view but not print or forward the messages. Previous versions of the software prohibited users from reading such protected e-mails, said Roling.