As new mobile phone technology continues to emerge, more businesses are introducing smart phone applications into their daily work life, which includes business owners, employees, and executives. In fact, according to the AT&T Small Business Technology Poll, 85% of small businesses use smart phones for business operations, which is up 80% from the previous year. While using your own mobile devices at work is convenient and makes business travel easier, it also comes with security risks that could damage your business reputation in the long run. By having a handle on the risks, you can work to resolve them if you still plan to allow mobile devices to be used in the workplace.
Risks of Using Mobile Devices for Work
Data Breach – Since employees are using their own personal smart phones and other mobile devices for work purposes, their data is typically not being tracked as closely as work computers. With the lack of tracking data arises the increase of data security breaches due the lack of data location knowledge.
Poor Security Measures – Another risk of using your mobile devices for work is the lack of security on the mobile devices. Most employees who are using their mobile devices for business don’t have appropriate security protection on their smart phones or tablet PCs — and therefore represent a host of potential problems. Many of the risks of using mobile devices for work center around not having appropriate security measures in place.
Employee’s Unlimited Access – When your employees use their own personal mobile devices at work, they are often given unlimited access to business files and intellectual property. With lack of security protection and the possibility of Malware and other viruses, the risk factor possibilities rise dramatically. Unlimited access to employees also includes dishonesty by employees who take advantage of the data they have access to.
Lost or Stolen Devices – Since mobile devices, including smart phones and tablet computers, are small, portable, and lightweight, there is more of a chance of them getting lost or stolen. Users of these devices tend to leave them unhidden and increase the risk of losing the devices or having them stolen quickly. When this occurs, the business data on their devices can be swiped by whoever finds the devices if there is not proper security.
How Your Small Business Can Protect Against Mobile Device Risk
Security Monitoring App – A security monitoring application should be installed on any mobile device being used for company purposes. Depending on the app you choose, possible monitoring includes verifying data before it is viewed or shared on the device, having a GPS function to track a phone if it becomes lost or stolen, and only allowing certain websites or applications to be used on the device. The security monitoring app should preferably have an auto-lock feature that locks the phone and its data if it is lost or stolen.
Cyber Liability Insurance – Aside from other important security measures, you should also further protect yourself with cyber liability insurance. This will help provide assistance in the case of the device being stolen along with the data or hacked into from a remote location.
Educate Employees on Mobile Device Security – One of the most important aspects of mobile device security is to encourage safety while using devices, in addition to promoting safe use of their mobile devices when used for business purposes. This means training and educating your employees on protecting against Malware, not downloading apps that may be unsafe, being careful where they store passwords on the device, and using common sense when browsing the Internet with their devices.
The risks of using mobile devices for work listed here can be startling and prevent you from allowing mobile devices to be used at your company. However, while the risks are sometimes not worth the convenience, it is very possible to protect mobile devices being used and ensure that employees are not using unsafe methods.