Posted on Monday, November 24, 2014Blog written by Rob Swenson
A few years ago, the popularity of mobile phones as tools for business communications opened a spooky, new era of security concerns for companies. Understandably, businesses and organizations worried about phones being lost or stolen and data being exposed.
Sensitive data in a lost or stolen phone – regardless of whether a personal phone or a corporate-issued device - could be compromised. Thieves and other unauthorized people could read proprietary information or use the device to gain access to sensitive, corporate files.
The good news is that businesses don’t have to worry as much these days about the security of data on phones and other mobile devices. However, they do have to implement good security policies and make sure that everyone in the company follows the rules.
Improvements in technology during the past couple of years have made mobile phones more secure, says Aaron Hansen, a product manager with SDN Communications in Sioux Falls.
“There’s plenty of functionality to protect you against theft and the loss of data. The features are there. It’s just whether people use them,” Hansen says.
In many companies, employees are allowed to work on their own phone or on a company-furnished phone. Typically, if they choose to conduct business on a personal device, they must follow company restrictions. No unauthorized apps may be loaded onto the device, for example.
A good starting point for phone security is simply to make sure that users set a passcode to enable use of the device, Hansen says. Newer mobile devices have the capability of enhancing protection by encrypting data, he says.
In addition, missing phones may be programmed to be remotely cleaned of sensitive information and, with use of GPS technology, a missing phone may be tracked to a specific location.
Free management tool available
Records such as a company’s financial records and information about customers definitely are worth protecting.
The most surefire way to protect sensitive data is simply to remove it from mobile devices and keep it off. That’s not always practical, however.
The popularity of mobile devices such as smart phones and the frequency at which they are stolen or lost keeps security challenges at a high level.
ConsumerReports.org reported earlier this year that about 3.1 million Americans were the victims of smart phone thefts in 2013. That was nearly twice as many victims as in 2012.
In addition, at least 1.4 million smart phones were lost and not recovered in 2013. That was up from 1.2 million in 2012.
Only 36 percent of phone users set a screen lock with a 4-digit pin, according to the Consumer Reports’ Annual State of the Net survey. More troubling was that 34 percent of users took no security precautions at all.
Mobile security was among the topics discussed at a recent Cisco Solutions Day event in Sioux Falls. The free informational session was hosted by SDN, the premier regional provider of broadband connectivity and related communications services to businesses.
SDN partners with Cisco and other top-line vendors to offer telecommunications products and services to businesses, organizations and institutions throughout the region.
Cisco Meraki was one the products demonstrated at Cisco Solutions Day. It is a cloud-managed solution that can help companies with mobile security by, for example, enforcing data encryption, remotely cleaning data from lost devices, and restricting network access to managed devices.
As Hansen points out, a Cisco Meraki mobile device management tool is available to companies at no charge.
“It’s an excellent solution, if someone doesn’t have one,” he says.
Cisco Meraki and SDN executives hope that users will be so pleased with their experience with the free tool that they’ll consider other Cisco products.
Those interested in discussing mobile security with SDN can call 800-247-1447 or reach out through the contact form on the SDN website.