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Mobile Devices – Are you protected?

Get mobile, but stay safe

Mobile devices are the next major computing platform or network access method. Research analysts IDC predict that by 2013 the number of mobile devices accessing the internet could pass 1 billion, a remarkable figure given that it took nearly 30 years for the number of PCs to reach that number.

Mobile and handheld devices are now as popular as phones, and the growth of these devices shows no signs of stopping. As new and innovative ways are developed for using these devices, so too are the security issues that could pose new risks.

A misplaced or compromised mobile device today can be infected by a virus, or even worse, become compromised. This will expose businesses to all sorts of risks. A recent study by research firm Forrester also indicates that small businesses are increasingly concerned about the security on smart phones and their increased use in today’s society.

How do you stay connected, while maintaining security and protecting your critical business data?

Here are some measures that you can take to stay protected.

1. Educate employees: the best way to prevent data loss is to ensure your employees are aware of the dangers and understand the steps that need to be taken to minimize risk. Encourage staff to not leave their devices unattended, be mindful of its physical security and enable auto-lock functionality.

2. Encrypt the data on the devices: if the device is lost or SIM card stolen, the thief will not be able to access your private information if it’s encrypted and the authentication technology is loaded onto the device. The information stored on any mobile device is your most important asset. Remote data destruction tools are also useful and enable businesses to wipe data from a lost device at the push of a button.

3. Make sure security software is up to date: just like with your PC, the security software on your mobile device needs to be current and up to date. This will protect your device from malware and new variants of malware that may threaten your security.

4. Develop and enforce strong security policies for using mobile devices: a company-wide policy regarding how mobile devices are used, what information is stored on them, who has access to the information and what applications can be downloaded to the mobile device, needs to be developed and put into place.

5. Change default settings: one of the easiest ways to access data from a handheld device is through the interface via default passwords. To ensure loss is minimized, users should ensure all default passwords are overwritten with a unique new one. Educate staff on creating strong passwords to help protect the device if it’s lost or hacked.

6. Synchronise devices: some businesses ask their staff to synchronise devices with laptops or PCs as part of their backup plan. This ensures that if the device is lost or stolen, information to run the business can be recovered.

7. Don’t take chances with downloads: as with PCs, ensure that staff don’t download from unknown websites and links from suspicious emails or instant messages. Downloading applications and content can compromise portable devices, allowing an attack or further security issues.

8. Use caution when enabling Bluetooth connections: a phone’s Bluetooth setting is on by default and insecure. If no devices are configured for use with Bluetooth, it will look for other Bluetooth devices to connect to and provide an easy access point for cybercriminals looking to access either the device or the network. Disabling or securing Bluetooth is an important consideration.

By implementing these tips, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime and decrease the loss of important data. This allows you to use the technology without putting the business at risk.

Talk to TNS about protecting your mobile devices.

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