While smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices offer the convenience of anywhere data access and on-the-go communication, they may also pose a security risk. Business owners and employees across the globe use their mobile smart devices to check bank accounts, company emails, financial data or other sensitive business information,
meaning that while these devices may be useful and user friendly, they also can offer a threat to corporate data and networks. In order to ensure mobile security for a business, it is important to understand the threats associated with mobile device usage as well as the way employees use their phones and tablets.
Mobile security: risks and mitigation
Recent studies that have been conducted about the mobile enterprising security issue have found that in as little as a year, more than one third of Western Europe consumers will use their smartphones to access the internet. This means that phones, tablets and mobile devices are quickly entering a majority of employees’ and consumers’ lives. In fact, some studies revealed that in America, the age cohort approaching their early working years (teenagers currently 15 to 18 years old) believe that their personal technology devices are better than those they use at work, and 85% use a mobile smartphone.
In the past, businesses, would designate and distribute work phones and tablet devices to employees, but for cost-cutting reasons as well as personal preference, more employees and more businesses than ever are engaging in “bring your own device” (BYOD) usage. Surveys have shown that nearly two-thirds of businesses allow some sort of BYOD usage, while less than 10% of organizations are “fully aware” of what devices are accessing their network.
An ever-changing force
Whether employers are aware of it or not, mobile devices are making their way into the workday. Employees are using them to access all kinds of business data. At the same time, the prevalence of cell phone viruses, security breaches and threats is on the rise, and with the sheer number of devices and updates, IT administrators are often left playing catch up and attempting to develop combat plans centered around secure policies and mobile technologies to protect sensitive business information.
Cyber hackers are finding more ways to access information found on smartphones, tablets and mobile technology devices. A Symantec crime report for 2012 found that one in every three mobile users across the globe is expected to lose or have a phone stolen at least once. In addition to these threats, many employees access company information using a cell network rather than the business’s secure connection. This leaves the device vulnerable to malware downloaded from the 3G/4G network that may then be transferred to the corporate network the next time they use it.
These increased threats to mobile devices as well as the growing number of workers who use personal tablets for business tasks, mean an impending need to protect business sensitive information as well as personal information. Just like you wouldn’t leave a business laptop unsecured, you shouldn’t leave mobile security to chance, either.
Secure policies and mobile technologies
To protect information and networks from hackers, thieves and malware, IT administrators need to incorporate secure policies, safe practices and mobile technology programs that work with mobile platforms for defense.
One basic ways to secure information is to require mandatory reporting of lost or stolen mobile technology. This ensures that you are aware of potential threats of this nature as soon as they happen and can take steps to ensure that your data remains safe (by invalidating that employee’s authentication information, for instance). IT teams also need to enforce the security measures such as mandatory password changes on a regular basis, device scanning in advance of network access and data encryption. Another great way to protect the business network is to include over-the-air wiping capabilities.
In addition to all of this, you should develop and implement a mobile security plan. Decide whether you want to allow employees to use their own mobile devices to access company data or to connect to your network and what steps they need to take before that can happen. Should the device have a certain antivirus installed? Should it implement mobile encryption technologies? Make sure that all of your employees are aware of the policies surrounding mobile use.
Mobile security for businesses
There are several different tablet platforms that IT departments need to work with to ensure mobile security, but by understanding the threats, the way employees use their devices and the best secure policies to protect enterprising businesses, administrators can have an easier task of implementing mobile security.