Mobile email is on the verge of becoming mainstream, according to a new survey. But experts warn that enterprises must have strict policies in place to stop mobile devices from spreading malware.
The research conducted by Datamonitor found that there are between 5 and 6 million subscribers to mobile email services worldwide. That figure it predicts, could rise to 260 million.
The survey found that 50 percent of the European enterprises interviewed already deployed mobile email among the workforce, while mobile Personal Information Management (PIM), which combines email with messaging, calendar, address book and remote file access was deployed in 34 percent of organizations.
Datamonitor analysts said that mobile operators' revenues from enterprise mobile email and PIM will surpass $600 million by 2009.
Security experts said that the question the research raised was how to ensure all company mobile email devices are secure.
"With an increasing amount of a company's information stored on its email system, and with mobile access becoming more prevalent, the enterprise needs to exert control over how emails are sent and received on phones, Blackberrys, PDAs and laptops," said Jamie Cowper, senior technology consultant at secure messaging expert, Mirapoint.
Cowper said that email was still the most common way in which viruses are spread and this could only get worse with mobile email.
"The more personal, out-of-the-office nature of mobile devices may encourage users to be less responsible when sending and receiving messages. If anything, security policies relating to mobile devices need to be even stricter than those applied to office-bound computers."
He said it was essential that the appropriate measures are put in place from the start.
"Companies must deploy secure email appliances to protect against the risk of mobile devices providing a soft entry point to the corporate network," said Cowper.
"They must remember that this will only prove completely effective if coupled with a clear and defined mobile email policy outlining what constitutes an acceptable use of a corporate mobile device," he said.