Keep Your Business Data Safe on Mobile Devices

According to CompTIA’s Second Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study for 2013, 64 percent of businesses support a BYOD policy. The trend continues as employees demand to use their personal mobile devices for their job. Businesses take on a higher risk of data exposure to malware and theft in a BYOD environment. Knowing how to protect your company data on these devices reduces the risk of a costly event that compromises your data, and damages your business.

Insist on Password Protected Devices

cyber_securityMany people continue to use their mobile devices with either no password or one that is too simple, says The Tennessean. Require all devices that connect to your network to have strong passwords and enforce changing them frequently.

When buying new devices, look for unique features that keep them from being hacked. For example, when looking at the Apple iPad mini with Retina display, which T-Mobile has online for review, notice that the screen uses an oleophobic coating. This surface resists fingerprints and smudges which could allow someone to guess the password entered on the screen to get into the phone or tablet.

Use Data Encryption

Both Android and iOS devices have built-in data encryption, but it’s disabled by default, says PC World. Enable data encryption on all mobile devices and enforce the creation of strong passcodes. Each OS has a different approach to data encryption, but once enabled, all data will be unreadable if stolen.

Anti-Malware Protection

Mobile devices are facing more malware threats. Every mobile device accessing your business network needs to be running an anti-virus/malware program. These security apps need to be run periodically, and also configured to track and scan files being downloaded to the mobile device.

Controlling App Access

Apple has a quality control process to prevent malware from being introduced into their apps store. Google doesn’t do this for the Android apps in Google Play. If a mobile user chooses to download an app from a site outside of these two sources, they are at even greater risk of dealing with malware.

A way to control this is to develop your own in-house library of apps that your company has checked and deemed safe, says Entrepreneur. Employees are required to get their apps from this library to ensure that no malware is introduced into the company network. Commercial, free and in-house developed apps are controlled by the library. Updates and patches should also be in the library.

Create a procedure in which employees can request apps be put into the library for access. This reduces the temptation of going to some other site to download an app that puts your company data at risk.

Centralizing Control

Consider integrating all of these capabilities by using a mobile device management (MDM) solution. These tools enforce your BYOD policy by giving you control over all mobile devices that access your company’s network. Products such as Air-Watch and Blackberry’s MDM include such features as:

  • Allowing only certain devices to be registered
  • Monitoring devices connected to your network
  • Logging activity of mobile devices on your network
  • Restricting access to specific work areas by device or account
  • Limiting connection times to your systems
  • Preventing connections by devices reported as lost or stolen
  • Wiping company data from a device suspected of being stolen