Keeping mobile devices secure

Someone holding a mobile device showing a padlock on the screen

From making and receiving calls to checking email, browsing the internet and editing documents, business smartphones have more capabilities than ever

However, this enhanced productivity comes at a cost. The risk of company data loss via mobile devices has dramatically increased. Phones can easily be lost or stolen, so you need to protect the business information stored on them.

Understand mobile security

Educating your staff is the first step in preventing malicious attacks. Your employees must understand what threats are out there and how to prevent them.

Follow these key steps to keep your business smartphones secure:

  1. Focus on protecting the information, not the devices. Although smartphones can be expensive, the data you have stored on them is probably worth much more. Take a step back and look at where your information is being stored (a risk assessment can help), then focus your protection on those areas.
  2. Encrypt data on smartphones. The information stored on your phones can include key telephone numbers, important messages, access to company documentation and emails. To keep it safe, scramble it with encryption. This ensures that even if the smartphone gets lost or stolen, a thief will be unable to access the information. Some mobiles can encrypt data as standard. Others require special applications - ask your IT supplier for details.
  3. Back up the data on your smartphones. Backing up your data to the cloud is often quick and easy and can be invaluable if a device is lost, damaged or stolen.
  4. Make sure all phones require a passcode or fingerprint verification before they can be used. This will help keep the information on it secure if a smartphone is lost or hacked.
  5. Use mobile security software. For maximum security, treat business smartphones as if they were computers in your company (they are!). That means installing security software - like Norton Mobile Security for Android and Windows-based mobile devices. This will keep you protected from smartphone viruses, and - more importantly - can guard against spam and other threats.
  6. Install software or an app that will allow you to wipe the data on your devices remotely if it is lost or stolen. Find My iPhone and Android Device Manager offer this option. Some apps, like Find My iPhone, also allow you to track where your device is if it is lost or stolen.
  7. Manage your company smartphones. Prevent staff from installing their own apps. Mobile device management (MDM) software allows you to manage the devices and roll out apps and software updates centrally.
  8. Make sure your IT policies include smartphones. It’s all too easy to overlook mobile devices when writing your security policy.
  9. Consider the risks posed by 'Bring your own device'. It is increasingly common for employees to use their own devices for work purposes which can mean company data can end up on employees' devices.
  10. Be careful with Bluetooth. Many smartphones come with Bluetooth switched on by default. This enables people nearby to pick up that phone’s Bluetooth signal and - potentially - connect to it. Turn it off if you don't use it - or enable the security functions, so strangers can’t connect to it.

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