Bob Egan's weekly column
October 19, 2004
Our ConclusionsMeanwhile, mobile viruses
The fundamental assumptions of wireless 411 are flawed in that they apply an outdated wireline white-pages mentality to wireless. The directory initiative ignores key differences not only between wireline and wireless, but between businesses and consumers, too:
ActionTo prevent the wireless 411 nightmare from become reality, CIOs and IT managers should immediately do three things:
DiscussionThe key attribute in provisioning a wireless phone is its phone number. With it, one can call the phone, address its short and multimedia messaging services, and e-mail. Several companies have already developed software that uses the number to access the phone's status and software revisions, overall phone capability, operating system type, memory and application sets. Would you give a third party the fixed IP addresses to your desktops and laptops and throw away your enterprise firewalls? That's the equivalent of what happens when a company's wireless number is made public.
Even the questionable guidelines aimed at protecting consumer privacy do nothing to safeguard enterprise wireless numbers. Nearly five months have passed since we warned that the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association's (CTIA) directory threatens to make wireless business numbers public and thus fair game to anyone who calls wireless 411 or the directory itself is hacked. CTIA's president called us after our first research note on this topic, and after a "lively" discussion, he conceded that the needs of the enterprise customer need to be addressed. Action was promised, yet none has been taken, despite our offer to help.
Time is growing critical as the bills have moved out of Congressional committees. This wireless directory has the potential to combine the anxiety of Internet pop-ups, spam, telemarketer calls and a new level of virus attacks for any person who's listed.
Bob Egan is president and CEO of Mobile Competency, a Providence, R.I.-based market analyst and consultancy. He can be contacted at email@example.com or via phone at 401-241-4000.