From desktop to mobile: Examining the security experience
Computing, Health and Science
Computer and Security Science, Centre for Security Research
The use of mobile devices is becoming more commonplace, with data regularly able to make the transition from desktop systems to pocket and handheld devices such as smartphones and PDAs. However, although these devices may consequently contain or manipulate the same data, their security capabilities are not as mature as those offered in fully-fledged desktop operating systems. This paper explores the availability of security mechanisms from the perspective of a user who is security-aware in the desktop environment and wishes to consider utilising similar protection in a mobile context. Key issues of concern are whether analogous functionality can be found, and if so, whether it is offered in a manner that parallels the desktop experience (i.e. to ensure understanding and usability). The discussion is supported by an examination of the Windows XP and Windows Mobile environments, with specific consideration given to the facilities available for user authentication, secure connectivity, and content protection on the devices. It is concluded that although security aspects receive some attention, the provided means generally suffer from usability issues or limitations that would prevent a user from achieving the same level of protection that they might enjoy in the desktop environment.