mobile security

6 essential items for your mobile security checklist

While it’s obviously necessary to safeguard your organization’s computers and networks from malicious activity to protect sensitive data, it is equally important to ensure the safety of mobile devices used for business.

Whether the mobile devices are company-issued or BYOD, all your efforts to protect your office IT will mean nothing if you don’t also close the mobile security gap.

Consider these steps toward a safer, more secure mobile business environment.

Keeping employees informed

The most crucial line of defense in maintaining mobile security is the users themselves. You must have your employees on board and equally aware of the importance of mobile security to protect the business and do their jobs effectively. Likewise, they need to be aware of the potential dangers of not maintaining their mobile security.

It’s primarily your responsibility to make sure employees are educated in best practices for keeping business-related mobile devices safe, as well as in the various types of threats that exist.

In a Verizon study conducted last year, 35% of healthcare organizations and a third of public sector entities suffered data loss or downtime because of failures to maintain proper mobile security practices. Across industries, only 14% of businesses had any kind of plan in place for basic mobile security.

Safe and sensible authentication

One of the easiest and most effective ways to take control of your mobile security is to establish sensible authentication practices. This starts with always using passwords to access your devices as well as complex passwords using unique combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numerals, and other characters.

You can also employ two-step authentication that requires a second form of access, such as a one-time access code, security phrases or fingerprint identification.

Needless to say, passwords should be protected and changed on a regular basis.

Timely system and software updates

Device and software creators are part of the security vanguard and are constantly working to improve security. Watch for important update notifications for your device and install the updates when appropriate. Seemingly simple or frequent system updates often include vitally important security patches that help keep your devices safe as threats evolve.

While it’s possible that update notifications may arrive via email or text message, it’s important to maintain a level of caution. Be certain that these notifications are coming from verified sources to confirm you are not a target in a phishing scam.

Physical security

Do you know where your tablet is? How about your cell phone?

Not all dangers are high-tech. Some dangers can come from something as mundane as a lost or stolen device. Were you logged out before your device went missing?

Even a tablet set aside someplace while you attend to other matters is still at risk of review by anyone passing by. Similarly, are you certain no one is looking over your shoulder as you enter in password information? These extra cautious practices will save you major headaches in the long run.

And it’s not just defense against malicious persons you should watch for but also simple physical accidents. A tablet falling off a table or a cell phone falling out of a shirt pocket can damage your device to the point of inoperability and lead to expensive and inconvenient downtime – something you’ll surely want to avoid.

Backup options and preparedness

What if the worst happens and your data is compromised through either malicious behavior or simple accident? Do you have a plan in place?

One way to avoid problems is by ensuring regular backup for your mobile data – not just for local network data. Cloud backup solutions are useful and can usually be automated through your device apps. This is a good idea not only for business and customer data but also for schedules and contacts. The loss of a device should result in a minimum of downtime when backup precautions are taken.

Encryption where necessary

Organizations in highly regulated industries like healthcare have additional security concerns for business technology. HIPAA compliance is serious business and failure to maintain security standards can result in expensive fines.

Fortunately, advanced options for mobile security and end-to-end data encryption are available to protect data in transit from prying eyes and ensure all parties are taking security compliance seriously.

A little vigilance goes a long way

Maintaining mobile device security requires consistency, common sense and extension of safe practices already established in other aspects of your IT infrastructure.

Being aware of security issues with mobile devices and acting on those issues will go a long way in ensuring your business need not suffer data exposure, downtime, or loss of reputation.