We have become quite addicted to our mobile devices. And why not? They have become essential tools for productivity, remote connections and instant access to information. However, mobile devices, including smart phones, tablets and laptops, are notorious for being easy to steal and easy to hack into, especially when you are on a Wi-Fi network.
So, how do track, protect and preserve the data on your mobile device? Let’s look at two considerations:
- How can you track your company’s mobile devices?
- How can you protect your mobile device from hacking?
How can you track your company’s mobile devices?
The downside of our increased usage of mobile devices is that they are increasingly “warehouses” of company and personal data. They are also easy to lose and are very susceptible to theft. Millions of phones, tablets and laptops are stolen every year. A majority of those devices have sensitive company and personal data on them. Although you may have a PIN code or password, those are relatively easy to crack by a thief.
So, how do you track your mobile devices? Sign up with a service such as Microsoft InTune, Lookout Software or Google’s Android Device Manager. These types of services allow you to remotely lock a device or wipe it clean (delete all personal and company data quickly), prevent apps from being purchased, push out approved apps and allow you to geo-code the device (see where it is on a map at any time).
These programs also allow you to assign a specific company device to a specific employee and create a policy on how that mobile deice can be used. For example, you could create one policy for sales reps and another for executives. These policies determine what apps can be used, if Siri or Cortana can be used, if YouTube can be accessed and so much more. Creating a defined user policy and installing it on each company device will go a long way to helping the mobile device portion of your business continuity plan.
How can you protect your mobile device from hacking?
Unfortunately, mobile phones, tablets and even laptops are pretty easy to hack into — especially when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network (please avoid public Wi-Fi unless it is an emergency and you have no mobile data coverage). The best defense is to make your mobile device a “low-value target.” If you don’t have a lot of interesting data on your device, hackers will move on to the next user. Strongly consider setting up a secure online cloud folder to access company documents. Also, get into the habit of clearing your document cache file on a regular basis. Even if you access a file from a website, it can leave a temp copy on your mobile device that can be taken by a hacker.
Also consider anti-malware software (absolutely necessary for a laptop), which is starting to become more available as developers convert their desktop versions of anti-virus and anti-malware software for mobile devices. Why is this important? Because most of us connect our mobile devices to our laptops, desktop computers and even company servers. Since mobile phone and tablet security is very low level, you can end up being a carrier of malware and viruses right into your company network.
Spend a little time creating an “acceptable use” policy for your company’s mobile devices. Determine which programs and apps are approved and which ones aren’t. Decide what websites and company files your employees can access and when they can access them. For example, some of our customers disallow access to the company server on nights and weekends. Train your staff to never use free public Wi-Fi unless it is an emergency and they have no mobile data connection. Consider implementing software to track and manage your mobile devices from your office computer so you can remotely lock, wipe and track each device. Security awareness on mobile devices is alarmingly low considering how much we use them and how much data they can access. With a proper usage policy and good management software, you greatly reduce your chances of becoming a mobile device breach statistic.
About Accelera IT Solutions
Accelera IT Solutions is a Phoenix, Arizona-based provider of complete IT services and solutions including on-site support, remote support, data backup and replication (to our secure data center), consulting for HIPAA and PCI compliance, IT project management and cyber-security audits and planning. Accelera also specializes in hardware consulting and installation/setup of servers, workstation, laptops and desktops. Contact Accelera at 623-266-4190 or at www.acceleradata.com.