Sese Bennett, guest blogger
Mobile devices have become so much a part of our everyday work and personal lives that it is easy to take them for granted. But the fact is that with their convenience come significant security risks that businesses need to actively address.
Devices left in the backseat of a car, malware loaded from a malicious website or even spyware installed when downloading an application or game all can lead to serious data loss.
So how do you protect yourself (and your employees) from these threats?
Here are five ways to increase mobile technology security:
- Modify user behavior. This can have a huge impact on protecting data on a mobile device. We all know how convenient it is to give your mobile device to a restless child to entertain them, but we may not consider the security impact this could have. Many websites can unknowingly host malicious code that when executed, infect the mobile device. Downloading apps and games containing hidden code can also result in the loss of important and sometimes even confidential personal and business information.Educate your users by developing a security awareness program on how to avoid the dangers of mobile malware and spyware. Remember, behaviors don’t change overnight, so institute a continuous user awareness training program and measure your progress over time.
- Use technology in a layered approach. Anti-virus, anti-malware and mobile platform firewalls protect mobile devices and reduce the likelihood of compromise by a malicious hacker or unintentionally by an unsuspecting user. Each provides a layer of security and protects the device by detecting and blocking the execution of malicious code aimed as stealing information such as contacts, photos, emails, documents, text messages, and financial information.
- Protect access to mobile devices. It sounds like a “no-brainer” but most users don’t protect access to their devices. Let’s be honest, it’s inconvenient to put that password in every time the device shuts off or goes to sleep. But protecting access to your device is one of the simplest ways to protect its data. Utilize a password or pass phrase that is hard to guess but easy to remember, and set the timeout on your device to as short a window as possible. If your device does not support a password, then utilize a six digit PIN instead.
- Separate business from personal data. One of the biggest problems with maintaining security on mobile technologies is that in many cases, both personal and business data are co-mingled. If possible, implement technology like a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to segregate business from personal data. This will allow you to do things like erase business data from a device that is lost or stolen without deleting the users’ personal information.
- Encrypt sensitive data. Although encrypting data on a device will not prevent a security breach, it will protect the data by rendering it unreadable. Encrypt either the entire device or at a minimum, all business-related information.
Implementing these recommendations won’t make you immune to data loss on a mobile device, but it will reduce the impact to your company when data loss occurs. We love our devices and with a few changes to our behavior and implementation of a layered security approach, users can remain productive while protecting the lifeblood of an organization — its data.