Smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices are making it easier than ever for employees to stay productive. Yet as their use grows, so do threats to data security. Mobile security breaches cost small businesses more than $125,000 per year on average, according to a 2012 survey by Symantec. Particularly severe attacks can even drive a company out of business.
These examples show how companies in three different industries could help secure their mobile data. Though the examples are fictional, the solutions are real. Use these tips to help safeguard your devices and protect the health of your business:
Law Office: Keep Communications Secure
Attorneys at a law firm rely on smartphones and tablets to respond to clients, schedule meetings and track billable time. Because much of the information stored on these devices is highly sensitive, the firm’s principals need to be sure the devices are secure. To achieve this, they could:
- Require passwords. Attorneys and support staff should use hard-to-guess passwords on their devices, which must be entered each time the phone is turned on or after a period of inactivity. Staff members could also log out of apps that access sensitive information to keep unwanted eyes from seeing it.
- Encrypt mobile communications. The firm could require employees to use encryption for email and other content. The American Bar Association website has more information about that. Many smartphones and other devices include an encryption feature that can be turned on through the device’s “Options” or “Settings” menu or by following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use a virtual private network. The firm’s IT staff or consultant could set up a virtual private network (VPN), which provides a secure connection to transmit data, and require employees to use it to access resources on the firm’s network. Learn more at TechTarget.
Appliance Repair Service: Keep Devices Safe on the Go
Technicians at an appliance repair company use their smartphones to stay in contact with office staff after customer visits, schedule appointments and accept payments. The company’s management wants to ensure that devices are used safely and that information is protected in case a device goes missing. They could:
- Implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Because many of the technicians use their personal devices at work, the company could implement a policy with guidance on how devices should be used during work hours. For example, it might allow the use of specific navigation apps while prohibiting visits to certain websites.
- Train employees to be vigilant. Along with a BYOD policy, the company could emphasize the importance of steps such as password-protecting phones, recording device serial numbers and simply keeping a close eye on them, particularly if they are used outside of work.
- Enable remote lock and wipe for devices. The technicians should learn how to lock and wipe data from their devices remotely, which can keep data from being accessed if the devices are lost or stolen. Depending on the device, this may be done through a website or an app. PC Magazine has more information about locking and wiping data.
Sporting Goods Wholesaler: Gain Peace of Mind
The sales team at a sporting goods wholesaler relies on laptops and tablets to give presentations and show new products to current customers. The employees also rely on their smartphones to set up meetings while on the road and take notes on follow-up steps. To help protect the data on these devices, the company could:
- Use a mobile device management (MDM) system. This type of system would allow managers to monitor the devices when the sales staff is on the road. It would also provide a central point for remotely locking and wiping devices, should one go missing.
- Keep operating systems updated. Managers could advise employees to be sure their devices are set to check for security updates automatically. This can help provide protection for data outside of the company firewall.
- Back up data to a secure location. To protect sensitive product information and customer files, the sales staff could use a backup service or device, such as an external hard drive. Some mobile devices include backup capabilities for storing email messages, contacts, calendars and other data to a secure online location.
Keeping data protected can be critical to the health of your business. Click here to learn how data compromise and identity recovery coverage can help you recover quickly if your business data is lost, stolen or accidentally released.
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