Meta Group warns on Office camera phones

December 14, 2003 With the cost of adding cameras to mobile phones becoming marginal (US$2-$5 per phone), META Group expects the majority of phones to include this capability within two to three years.

However, for many organisations, cameras represent a significant liability or security risk - inappropriate candid shots of employees, pictures of production lines or worse.

While the quality of most current camera phones is poor, it is improving quickly and represents a potential channel for leaks of sensitive data or images that can produce unintended consequences.

META Group recommends setting up a clear policy of no camera-enabled phones for all companies. "Most organisations that provide phones to their employees and that are evaluating new, feature-rich mobile phones should require the vendor or carrier/supplier to permanently disable the camera or provide a device without a camera," said Jack Gold, vice president with META Group's Technology Research Services.

"in addition, most organisations should examine mobile phones coming on premises and prevent camera-enabled devices from entering, particularly those belonging to non-employees." Enterprises should set firm policies for such devices and restrict their acquisition and use. Furthermore, all employees should be made aware of the policy and be called on to actively enforce it throughout the workplace.

"Although we expect to see some camera-enabled devices used in enterprises - insurance adjusters, inspections, field services - most organisations will look unfavorably on the deployment of camera-enabled devices and restrict their acquisition and use," said Gold.

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