In today’s business world mobile devices are as essential to working and collaboration as traditional computers are — oftentimes more so. And yet as the role of mobile devices in the business world has expanded, the information security policies for those phones and tablets have often remained stagnant. This has led to an unprecedented number of businesses whose confidential and often sensitive information is spread to numerous, unsecured devices outside the direct control of the company —and a greater than ever need for mobile security solutions.
This need is exacerbated because most employees work on their personal devices. The announcement last week from IBM and Apple on selling mobile apps to the enterprise will only extend this into more businesses. Most companies have embraced this trend and developed BYOD policies because it offers convenience and cost savings. Not only would it be expensive to provide every employee with their own business-only mobile device, it would be unrealistic to expect them to use it. Carrying two mobile devices would make life more complicated and who needs that.
The result is that business information routinely makes its way onto personal mobile devices. This isn’t a bad thing, as long as the information is properly protected — but it seldom is. Threats to information security on employee devices rarely come from employee carelessness. Rather, the main threats are:
- Other apps. While employees’ phones and tablets may be password protected, and your own company collaboration apps may be secure, employees use other apps all the time. These apps routinely require and receive permission to access a user’s data and files, which could unintentionally mean work files as well as personal ones. While most of these apps are completely innocent, they create a security gap that could put company data at risk, unless the device employs an active mobile security solution.
- Theft. Hackers know that the simplest way to access data is often the easiest. A stolen smartphone can easily have its password cracked, and without mobile security solutions, a criminal can access all the data stored on the phone. This includes work files, as well as login information to company systems, websites and databases. This is a major threat to any organization.
Mobile security solutions can close these gaps by ensuring that access to all company data is secure and controlled. Encrypting files on mobile devices and ensuring that users who access them have to call home for validation prevents outside apps or unauthorized mobile users from accessing them. This contains the sensitive information, and means that even smart phone thieves who crack the phone’s password cannot access the data on it.
Seeking out mobile security solutions is essential for data security. How do you protect your company’s data?
Photo credit Randy Kashka