Part 1: How to prevent data breaches on mobile devices

Part 1: How to prevent data breaches on mobile devices

A recent survey conducted by MarketsAndMarkets found that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies were in place in nearly 40% of American businesses -- which just shows you that almost everyone now owns a smartphone and uses it for business communication. Many businesses are letting employees use their own smartphones and tablets to save money on equipment purchases and simplify hardware management.

However, while the benefits of incorporating mobile devices in your company's IT infrastructure are enormous, BYOD policies also introduce security concerns that can't be ignored. Data security is one of those things that keep IT management teams on their toes. With security breaches and cyberattacks on the rise, smartphones and tablets represent one of the most vulnerable kinks in your network’s armor.

The Problem

Many businesses store sensitive data in apps that can be accessed remotely. With a fleet of company-owned devices, businesses must protect this information by installing safety features en masse. But with a few dozen employees using devices from a broad spectrum of manufacturers, applying a uniform security strategy becomes much harder.

Now, here's where a proper mobile device management (MDM) policy should govern how mobile devices (personal or company-provided) access privileged information. MDM refers to administrative rules, regulations, and security standards concerning mobile devices.

While the increasing popularity of the BYOD movement can be extremely convenient for employees, it also presents the need for having strict monitoring and security protocols in place to protect corporate data. We’ve all heard of the high-profile data disasters of recent years, and mobile devices present an entirely new vulnerability that hackers can exploit.

The Solution

You still need to adopt an MDM solution to ensure seamless integration, accessibility and security. A MDM solution may be used to help segregate company data from personal data, which would ensure sensitive data will always stay within the company’s control. Ultimately, it’s all about letting your employees enjoy the freedom of mobility without putting confidential data at risk.

A MDM policy enforces IT security policies for employee- and company-owned devices alike, offering protection from the following threats:

Bugs and Viruses

Away from the safety of your network, tablets and mobile devices can become susceptible to viruses and malware. Once infected these devices could be used to transport a virus onto a corporate network. Think of a computer virus like any other virus -- it’s contagious. One employee’s carelessness could spread to every device on your network.

To avoid this, you should always remember to keep your data secure by applying passwords protecting phones and tablets, encrypting the device, using the Office 365 Outlook app for email, and being very careful not to click on phishing emails.

Unsafe Apps

Ideally, your MDM will only allow apps to be installed that you have vetted. Make sure you are keeping the apps on your device updated with the latest version and security patches. Don’t jailbreak your phone and make sure you only download apps from trusted sources. Another option is to have your IT support team remotely manage which apps are installed to reduce vulnerability. Also, avoid connecting to public or unknown Wi-Fi connection.

Third-Party Operating Systems

Installing OS software that wasn't released by the device vendor allows users to bypass protocols that some find to be restrictive. Although they give you more control over mobile device configurations and make it possible to download paid apps for free, third-party OSs lack even the most basic security features.

Any MDM solution should recognize unregistered OSs and prohibit compromised devices from being used for business activities.

A Bad or Non-Existent MDM Policy

Many companies hastily allow employees to use their personal devices, either putting off security optimizations for later or scrapping them altogether.

Considering the number of new threats discovered every day, a “written” mobile device management policy is crucial to any company that allows employees to use their own devices. By taking proactive steps, which includes setting up and enforcing guidelines, businesses can reduce or eliminate their risks.

At F1 Solutions, we fully understand the importance of having the right technology and policy on your side to help improve data security and build a more efficient management system. If you’re ready to transform your business for the better, speak to our team today.

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