SDN Blog

Businesses can and should address rising threats to mobility

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in Remote Network Monitoring

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BYOD & Mobile Security

With more employees using an increasing variety of personal devices for work, it’s no surprise that security experts predict that attacks on electronic information in smartphones and other mobile devices will increase in 2015.

McAfee Labs, one of the world’s leading threat researchers, is among the companies that foresee attacks increasing on several electronic fronts, including mobile devices.

“Mobile attacks will continue to grow rapidly as new mobile technologies expand the attack surface and little is done to stop app store abuse,” the company reports in its forward-looking McAfee Labs Threats Report,” which was published in November.

The development of tools such as malware generation kits is simplifying the creation and distribution of code for hackers and cyberthieves, even for those without much programming knowledge.

The good news is that employers also have new and improved ways to protect electronic information, says Eric Sahly, a senior account executive with SDN Communications in Sioux Falls. SDN is the premier provider of broadband connectivity and related communications services in South Dakota.

“Fortunately there are tools available,” Sahly says. “We’re seeing more effective tools and more user-friendly tools to address these security risks.”

As Sahly points out, in the years before Bring Your Own Device – BYOD, for short – took hold as a popular movement in the workplace, setting corporate standards to protect information was a task that generally was easier to manage. Employers would assign a certain type of PC or laptop and maybe a mobile phone to employees who needed equipment to communicate quickly with customers, coworkers or others.

That old top-down approach to device use has been “flipped on its head” by BYOD, which has brought elements of the Wild West into organizations, Sahly says.

“End users are bringing many different devices into the enterprise. There’s also a lot of mingling of personal and corporate data,” he says.

Employers gradually have embraced BYOD movement for reasons such as increased productivity, decreased equipment costs and enhanced employee satisfaction.

“We’ve become so accustomed to using mobile devises for work. The measure of comfort we’ve taken has outpaced the measures we’ve taken to make them secure,” Sahly says.

Third parties such as SDN can help businesses and other organizations implement, improve and update Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategies. In addition to expertise and experience, SDN staffers have access to products from suppliers such as Cisco Systems that can help client companies

For example: A security practice known as a sandboxing can be used to create a place away from a host device to store outside, unverified programs. Businesses can retain the ability to remotely remove sensitive data from mobile devices that are lost or stolen. Or perhaps mobile cameras should be disabled in areas where sensitive company information is stored.

Obviously, employees should use care in using mobile devices. Some apps might be too risky for remote business use. Employees must be trained well and held accountable to company standards.

Meanwhile, employers have to implement and maintain good security policies and practices. It’s especially important for businesses in regulated industries, such as financial services, health care and education, to have good plans and systems in place to protect information.

Sahly encourages employers to make sure that operating systems on employees’ devices are up to date. Employers also should know what applications employees commonly access for work purposes and have a policy for using personal devices during work hours, he says.

“I think if you get a framework in place. It doesn’t matter so much that devices are changing,” Sahly says. “Organizations have to continue to be vigilant and assess what employees are doing. But if they get some of the pieces in place, they certainly can get to a point where they can sleep at night.”

Indeed, SDN can help business executives sleep at night. Among SDN’s services is Remote Network Monitoring. Trained technicians will remotely monitor clients’ networks 24 hours a day, every day of the year, to monitor for suspicious activity.

For more information about SDN’s security products and services, reach out to Sahly through email or call him directly at 605-978-3529. You can also call the main SDN line, 800-287-1442, and ask for an account executive.