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5 Ways to Manage Smartphone Data Security in the Workplace

Posted June 27, 2014 by Lynn Brown

There’s no doubt about it – the business world is going mobile.

Research by International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that the mobile worker population will grow to 1.3 billion in 2015 accounting for over one-third (37.2%) of the global mobile workforce. 

The beauty of this trend is that with smartphones and other electronic devices connecting to business networks outside of the office, employees can pretty much work from anywhere, anytime.

But, of course, it’s a double edged sword.

Going mobile puts the confidentiality and security of company information at risk in several different ways.

Smartphones and other portable devices are susceptible to cyber crime, and they can fall into the wrong hands while workers are on the move.

Increasingly, employees are storing sensitive data on their mobile devices, according to the Q1 2014 Good Mobility Index report.  

In fact, 75% of respondents in the 2014 State of Endpoint Risk Report by Ponemon Institute say that mobile devices such as smart phones represent the greatest security risk within the IT environment.

It all adds up to the importance of a targeted information security policy.

Man-holding-iPhone-(2).jpg

Here are 5 ways to manage smartphone data security: 

  • Whether the workplace allows employee-owned BYOD (bring your own device) devices or provides them, develop information security policies and procedures that include specific guidelines for smartphones and other mobile devices.
     
  • Ensure that all computers are equipped with up-to-date security. Included on the list of important mobile device management features, according to the Ponemon 2014 State of Endpoint Risk: virus and malware detection/prevention, encryption and other data loss prevention, and anti-theft features.  
     
  • Provide regular employee training to ensure employees understand their responsibility to protect personal information. One important message: never leave mobile devices unattended. The 2014 Phone Theft in America Report from mobile security company Lookout, showed that the top places where phones are stolen are: restaurants (16%), bars or nightclubs (11%), the workplace (11%), public transportation (6%), on the street (5%). Conversely, an article published by Security Management reported that over a six-month period, more than 21,000 PDAs (personal digital assistants) were left in taxis in Chicago alone.
     
  • Information security policies must extend to confidential documents that have been printed outside of the office too. Documents must be securely destroyed when they are no longer needed.  Partner with a reliable shredding company, and make these services available to the mobile workforce. The company should provide a secure chain of custody and a certificate of destruction after every shred.
     
  • Data stored on obsolete mobile devices must be properly disposed of – erasing hard drives does not guarantee destruction of data. A recent example is the Virginia-based Trust Digital study, where they purchased 9 phones randomly off eBay. Engineers found nearly 27,000 pages of data on the phones including personal tax information, corporate sales notes and business client records. Physical hard drive destruction is the only 100% secure way to destroy data from hard drives. Speak to your shredding company about hard drive and e-media destruction services.

Learn more about smartphone data security and how to educate your employees of using smartphones for work.


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