Keeping Business Data Safe on Mobile Phones
As phones become more and more like mini-computers, they are increasingly being used to access a company’s data and network, whether by your telecommuting employees who never step foot in the office, or traditional employees trying to make the most of the wait time between client appointments.
As it becomes more common for employees to access company data from personal phones and other devices, often referred to as BYOD (bring your own device), greater care must be taken to protect your company’s sensitive information from prying eyes. Here are just a few helpful tips for shoring up your employee’s mobile phones.
Teach Staff the Basics
Some of the most effective measures for protecting data are often the simplest. But, people fail to implement them because they may be unaware of such measures, or if they are, why these things are so important for data protection. Educate them about the importance of installing security patches for operating systems or creating complex passwords. Unless someone is particularly technology-minded, these simple measures will likely not be top-of-mind.
Ensure Business Data Cannot Be Saved on a Mobile Device
While employees may be able to access myriad programs and types of data right from their phones, there are ways to ensure information is not stored on them. Remember these are personal devices that can easily be lost or stolen; if an employee leaves the company, he is not turning over his phone, only company-issued tools.
There are various types of programs that can aid you in keeping data secure when accessed from personal phones. There are various types of server software, for example, that allow IT staff to remotely control up to several hundred devices. You can utilize programs that require passwords or pins to be entered before any applications can be booted up or data revealed. These programs typically will lock the program after a certain number of incorrect password attempts, or even wipe the memory completely. For even greater levels of protection, you can use fingerprint readers. Then you have smart card readers, where the owner of the phone must insert the card to use the phone; it automatically locked when it is located more than 10 to 12 feet from the card reader, making this a good option for dealing with lost or stolen phones.
Data encryption programs are a must for optimal protection of data accessed from mobile devices to add that extra layer of protection should other measures, like passwords, fail. Virtual private networks allow administrators to employ a variety of protection measures remotely to any device accessing the network, and is a particularly good idea if employees may be using public Wi-Fi spots to access company information.
The hard truth is there is no way to 100 percent guarantee data will never be compromised, regardless of the measures taken to protect it. But, with that being said, it is important to determine what sensitive information you have, and what level of risk is acceptable to you. Determining these two elements will lay the foundation for a security protocol that will minimize breaches, and keep your information safe.