We all conduct business on our cell phones. It is easy to check an account, follow up on a project, or do research, especially while traveling or on the go. Did you know that major players in the mobile industry, like Nokia and Verizon, have recently done studies evaluating the state of mobile device security? Unfortunately, the results are not so good. Here is what you need to know.
Cell Phone Cyber Attacks Are Surging
The threat goes where people go. Because more and more people conduct business on their mobile device, that is where the attacks are happening. The combination of an increased use of mobile devices for business, along with the rapid advancement of security threats to those mobile devices, has led to a surge in cyber-attacks. Most businesses and companies spend their digital security dollars on desktop computers and servers, and they neglect mobile devices which employees use much more frequently for business.
After all, our smartphones have advanced into miniature computers for all intents and purposes. They have become the primary tool for business people on the go. From airport lounges to coffee shops, hundreds of logins, emails, and text messages are sent with sensitive private data. Unfortunately, users tend to forget that these devices are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Whether businesses provide devices to employees or a company practices a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy, it is imperative that any device utilized for business purposes is secure.
Here are five security measures for all mobile devices transmitting company data to protect your business from malicious digital attacks.
Use a Mobile VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is one of the most valuable tools you can add to your digital security tool belt. Often utilized on desktops and laptops, a VPN can be applied to mobile devices as well. One of the providers that offer this feature may be found here.
A VPN protects data sent from both iOS and Android devices by creating a virtual, protected tunnel that utilizes data encryption. This encryption can protect data from being seen by malicious attackers before it reaches its destination.
Beware of the Phish
While not a specific security feature, it is important to ensure all employees are aware of the power of phishing attempts. Savvy employees know not to open dangerous links; however, these attacks have become more advanced over time. It is easy to not be aware or get tricked nowadays. Some phishing attempts are made via SMS text messaging, even sometimes masquerading as a reminder update to a popular app.
If a device is infiltrated due to a phishing scam, it can lead to a major breach in data security and the device could ultimately be controlled by the hacker. All employees using mobile devices for business should be briefed on the more advanced phishing scammers’ tactics.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi regularly puts many mobile devices at risk. These networks are essentially unprotected, and anyone who connects to them opens their device to malicious hackers. Businesses should consider investing in solid data plans, which would discourage employees from connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
Unfortunately, BYOD practices lend to users deciding to save costs by using public Wi-Fi. If this is a common practice, a mobile VPN can offer some protection by encrypting data sent to and from the device.
Mobile devices are often left vulnerable by neglecting one of the simplest ways to protect them: updating iOS and Android operating systems. Updates often contain security patches that shore up protections inherent to the device.
Updating should not stop at the OS of the mobile device. You should update all apps and security software as indicated. Setting automatic update preferences can help keep users up-to-date for certain applications. Otherwise, set a regular reminder to check the appropriate app store for updates.
In addition to regularly updating apps, software, and operating systems, employees should be encouraged to frequently back up important data and information. Cloud storage can provide a safe place for storage, ensuring data can be recovered in the event an attack leads to data loss.
Keep Track of Mobile Devices
Employers should perform an audit of all mobile devices being used for business purposes. Whether a company-issued device or a personal one used for business, all mobile devices carrying company data should be known.
The audit should also consider employees’ usage habits. If employees travel frequently and often find themselves using public Wi-Fi, they should apply security measures like mobile VPN and advanced antivirus and anti-malware.
An audit can be an easy way to expose areas that security is lacking and identify ways that employees may be misusing mobile devices. Once identified, security vulnerabilities can be shored up.
More and more employees use mobile devices to conduct company business. Stopping this behavior is futile, as it will only become more prevalent and convenient. Apply these five security measures and features to solidify the digital safety of your company data.