With many small businesses all but running on mobile devices, it’s important to understand the cyber risks and consider the safety of your information on all of the devices used by you and your associates.
With many workers routinely accessing company data on their phones and tablets, it’s important to take precautionary steps to protect that data from unauthorized access or other cyber risks.
For example, the risk of responding to malicious phishing attacks that attempt to harvest personal or financial data is greater on mobile devices, in part because their smaller screens make it harder to identify faked senders or other clues that a message might not be legitimate.
Given the relatively small cost involved, you may want to consider providing workers with a company phone that doesn’t have any personal information. This step can help reduce the risk of company data being shared accidentally through a consumer app, and it makes it easier to collect a phone and erase its data if a team member leaves.
Issuing company phones also makes it easier to lock a device remotely and erase its data should a device be lost or stolen.
Another good idea is requiring the use of VPN apps if workers connect to your company’s network or cloud services over public Wi-Fi connections.
Here are other some tips that can help improve the safety of your company’s mobile and handheld devices:
- Keep the system and software up to date. Updates often fix known security issues, so not updating can leave you vulnerable.
- Use the location feature sparingly. If an application asks for access to the GPS system on your device, considered whether it's really necessary for the application to do what you need it to. If not, deny the request.
- Turn devices and accessories off when they're not in use. Bluetooth is a great example of a technology that is better left off when not in use.
- Don't use a charger that doesn't belong to you. Cables used for charging look simple enough, but they can actually be modified with microcomputers that can grab information.
- Physically protect devices. One of the worst-case scenarios is that some steals a device altogether and has access to all of the information on it. Be mindful of the whereabouts of all of your devices. Carrying them in a holster or the same place all the time can help.
- If available, register for a service like Apple's "Find My iPhone" that lets you lock, track, and erase devices. If a device does get into the wrong hands, this can save you a lot of additional problems.
- Dispose of devices properly. In order to make sure that no information on the device can be recovered, you'll need to completely clear the device.
The rewards of using mobile and handheld devices can be great, just make sure they are not overshadowed by the risks. Use these devices as safely as possible.