Sunday, January 29, 2012

Avoiding A Mobile Crisis: Protecting Your Company’s Data on Smartphones

While smartphone devices provide ample opportunity for companies to manage day-to day operations away from their desktop, there is also a risk that important company data can fall into the wrong hands if not careful. More than 70 percent of people surveyed by Sunnyvale, Calf based Dimensional Research say the use of personal mobile devices for work purposes have contributed to increased security-related problems. When one of those tools goes missing, not only would the employee's personal information be at risk, but company email, messages, client contact information, company log-ins and access codes all could be potentially exposed.

According to the report, the No 1 factor affecting the security of sensitive data over mobile is lack of employee awareness of their company’s security policies. Companies need to invest in software and gadgets to not only track company-affiliated mobile devices, but protect and manage the work information stored on those devices. In addition, companies should also consider these following tactics to further avoid a corporate mobile meltdown:

1. Employee training on mobile device security. Employees should be made aware of basic safeguards such as updating passwords and having the ability to wipe a stolen device.

2. Give employees the tools they need to make sure they can find their devices in case they go missing. ZOMM and Phone Halo are both devices that alert the user when they're about to leave their smartphone behind. With ZOMM, the user carries a small sensor, say on a keychain. Phone Halo's tag can be attached to keys, a wallet, purse or other items. Both sound an alarm when the user is parted from their phone. Your company can even host monthly or quarterly lunch and learn meetings to give demonstrations to your employees on these mobile tools. Be sure to include your IT staff in these meetings so they can help employees install anti-malware and encrypt confidential data.

3. Create company policies on what kind of company data employees can store on their personal mobile devices. You should also have contingency plans when an employee leaves the company and you can securely remove company data from that device.

4. If your company has an app that primarily stores your corporate crisis communication plan, it’s important to only give key stakeholders access to that plan (company personnel that will be involved in crisis situations). Be sure to keep your plan password-protected and have a policy in regards to the app’s distribution and content management.

As mobile devices continue to become more prevalent in business operations, companies should invest time and resources to stay updated on current technologies and news surrounding data protection. We’ll continue to explore these stories more in upcoming posts surrounding web 2.0 in corporate crisis.

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