By Carl Weinschenk

With Joanne Egner, lead product manager, Tally Systems. The persistence of viruses and other forms of malware is leading astute IT managers to automate patch management for mobile devices. Egner recently wrote a white paper detailing the importance of proactive mobile management.

This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Empowering a Mobile Workforce. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit

Question: Is security management of mobile devices becoming more important as time goes on?

Egner: Traditionally folks just worried about servers. The Blaster worm virus was the rude awakening or reminder that they need to worry about desktops and laptops as well. All of a sudden they have a lot more machines to worry about. Among the most important are those mobile devices because they are the most difficult to manage and represent a greater threat because they are outside of your network.

Question: What mindset should IT have concerning mobile devices?

Egner: They need to understand where all their systems are and what is installed on them and what should be installed on them. It’s a hot topic. It gained a lot of attention since the Blaster worm hit people. They were just worried about the server and figured antivirus software and maybe some intrusion detection would take care of it. But the fact of the matter is, if they’ve got vulnerabilities on the machine, it’s going to propagate quickly.

Question: How are mobile devices different when it comes to keeping them patched and safe?

Egner: They aren’t necessarily connected to the network. You may be informing people of the problem and sending out an update or instructions to update antivirus protection or to make sure systems are up-to-date. Up until now a lot of the [patch] systems depended on a constant network connection, and the mobiles don’t have it. So the IT department sends out an update…but the mobile is not there.