From the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur

IDC says that m-commerce will be a $39.7 billion opportunity in the United States by 2005. But before you develop that music, game, video, e-book or application, know that hackers will be waiting to rip you off.

The only reason there hasn't been a headline-grabbing break-in, says Conal Mannion, a research director at Gartner Inc., is that there isn't much to steal or destroy on cell phones and PDAs-yet. It's unclear, says Mannion, whether the security will be there when the applications are.

Because most wireless devices lack the power to accommodate traditional desktop security algorithms, companies such as Certicom and RSA Security are developing new "lighter" PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) data encryption algorithms.

But encryption won't work unless it's supported by appropriate security procedures, says Certicom vice president of product management Amit Kapoor. Check that the platform and software of your wireless solution integrator make security job one, and see an independent security consultant if you have questions.

Rosy projections for m-commerce can come true, notes Mannion, and still mask small financial tragedies among developers whose security issues aren't resolved.

Mike Hogan is Entrepreneur's technology editor. Write him at mhogan@entrepreneur.com.