Are Mobile Phones Secure?
Written by Chris Thornton, 9 August 2016
Small businesses have the means to handle an array of cyber-attacks - but have we overlooked the less 'visible' risks posed by mobile phones?
The small business community has become pretty good at dealing with cyber-threats. From getting the simple things right, like employee education, to implementing more intensive measures, like cloud integration and data encryption, protecting networks is more flexible and affordable than ever...
But there's a difference between feeling safe, and being safe. While desktops, laptops and tablets tend to be at the top of our cyber-security priority list, are small businesses overlooking the less 'visible' vulnerabilities of their employees' mobile phones?
The Risks of Using Mobile Phones for Business
Research by Kaspersky Lab found 62% of small businesses allow employees to use personal mobiles - with 92% of users storing sensitive business data on those devices. With hackers increasingly targeting smartphones, it's easy to see how BYOD networks involve a range of mobile risks...
Theft & Loss: We've all been there - losing a phone can be a headache but if it contains sensitive data, the consequences are even worse since mobiles represent easily steal-able portals into our work networks and data.
Viruses & Malware: Mobile phones (both Android and iOS) are susceptible to viruses in the same way other devices are. Mobile viruses emerge constantly - and thanks to the large number of apps available, can be harder to spot.
Damage: It's unlikely you'll ever drop your desktop in water, but the same can't be said for your mobile. While damaged phones aren't necessarily threats to security, they can result in costly lost data.
Hacking: Like other devices, mobile phones are susceptible to hacking and phishing. In fact, the risk against mobiles may be greater since it's more likely they'll be accessing networks via a remote, unsecured or untrusted connections - which present a basket of cyber-security red flags.
Mobile Phone Solutions for Business
Meeting the risks that come with a BYOD deployment involves a different approach than you'd take with other devices. Fortunately, your security options are effective and affordable.
Security Basics: The same good security practice you're (hopefully) applying to desktops, laptops and tablets also applies to your mobile phones. That means installing mobile antivirus software and giving employees the training to avoid phishing attempts or clicking suspicious links on their phones.
As a first line of defence, make use of the security features mobiles come with to protect against the increased risk of loss and theft. These include:
- Screen locks
- Remote locks
- Passwords and PINs
- Geometric identification
- GPS location apps
VPN: If mobiles are connecting to your work network via unsecured wifi, a virtual private network is an essential cyber-security feature. The VPN protects remote connection by encrypting all data transferred over it - meaning your employees can connect, communicate and work without worrying about hacking threats.
Cloud Back-Up: Since you're more likely to lose or damage your mobile phone than other devices, it stands to reason you should be backing up the data on it. The connective power of the cloud allows mobile business users to do that, without compromising their device's flexibility. There are plenty of affordable cloud back-up options to choose from including old favourites like Google Apps, Dropbox and Onedrive.
Mobile Device Management
The most powerful defensive tool at your disposal to protect your employees' mobile phones, is a mobile device management solution. Essentially, MDM software stands at the forefront of your mobile cyber-security strategy and allows you to configure and control in great detail the software which is deployed on the devices in your network.
MDM software can manage and secure a range of mobile features, including:
- Email and internet browsing
- Cloud backup and sync
- App authorisations
- Work data encryption and emergency deletion
MDM solutions are included in platforms like Google Apps and Office 365, but there are plenty of alternatives to choose from, all of which make building mobiles into your security strategy, simpler and easier.
Mobile Phone Security Strategy
There's no reason to fear mobiles as part of your IT deployment but it's worth remembering their capability to empower your small business goes hand in with the risk of integrating them. It's time to start thinking differently about mobiles - and creating a cyber-security strategy which incorporates an MDM solution. Your attitude to mobile security today, promises to protect you into the future.
Worried about the security risks of your BYOD deployment? Want to take advantage of mobile flexibility? Contact Shackleton today…
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