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Camera Phone Ban May Be Tough To Enforce

Gartner recommends instead that businesses set strict limits on usage to combat security problems.
Camera phones pose security problems for businesses, but an outright ban on them would be hard to enforce, Gartner said Wednesday.

The research firm projects that 80% of mobile phones will be equipped with cameras. Banning the devices outright from businesses is not a policy that can be managed.

"Most organizations simply don't have the staff or money to mount effective inspections," Ken Dulaney, research VP at Gartner, said in a statement. "Instead, businesses should designate secure zones where restrictions on these devices are tight and can be enforced. For other workplace areas, staff should be given guidelines about what is acceptable."

As sales of camera phones have increased, some have worried that they could compromise security at businesses. For example, a visitor could photograph a proprietary manufacturing process and transmit it to a competitor.

Another Gartner analyst, Carolina Milanesi, noted that many phones also have voice-recording capabilities, which also poses a potential security risk. And other devices, such as so-called "key ring" storage devices, also can be used to improperly obtain company data.

"It's hard to decide where to draw a firm line about what can and can't be used at work," she said.

Rather than an outright ban, Gartner said it is urging companies to have firm usage guidelines that are sufficiently broad to handle all types of technology that poses security threats, Dulaney said.

"Any company policy directed at camera phones should be widened to address the transfer of information from enterprise environments to consumer devices in general," he added.