Whether it’s a smart phone, tablet or laptop, mobile devices have become the constant companions of today’s employees. And this relationship has only been further cemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has thousands working from home or other remote locations.
From a productivity standpoint, this is a good thing. So many tasks that once kept employees tied to their desks are now doable from anywhere on flexible schedules. All this convenience, however, brings considerable risk.
Perhaps the most obvious threat to any company-owned mobile device is theft. That could end a workday early, hamper productivity for days, and lead to considerable replacement hassles and expense. Indeed, given the current economy, thieves may be increasing their efforts to snatch easy-to-grab and easy-to-sell technological items.
Worse yet, a stolen or hacked mobile device means thieves and hackers could gain possession of sensitive, confidential data about your company, as well as its customers and employees.
Amateur criminals might look for credit card numbers to fraudulently buy goods and services. More sophisticated ones, however, may look for Social Security numbers or Employer Identification Numbers to commit identity theft.
5 protective measures
There are a variety of ways that businesses can reinforce protections of their mobile devices. Here are five to consider:
1. Standardize, standardize, standardize. Having a wide variety of makes and models increases risk. Moving toward a standard product and operating system will allow you to address security issues across the board rather than dealing with multiple makes and their varying security challenges.
2. Password protect. Make sure that employees use “power-on” passwords — those that appear whenever a unit is turned on or comes out of sleep mode. In addition, configure devices to require a power-on password after 15 minutes of inactivity and to block access after a specified number of unsuccessful log-in attempts. Require regular password changes, too.
3. Set rules for data. Don’t allow employees to store certain information, such as Social Security numbers, on their devices. If sensitive data must be transported, encrypt it. (That is, make the data unreadable using special coding.)
4. Keep it strictly business. Employees are often tempted to mix personal information with business data on their portable devices. Issue a company policy forbidding or severely limiting this practice. Moreover, establish access limits on networks and social media.
5. Fortify your defenses. Be sure your mobile devices have regularly and automatically updated security software to prevent unauthorized access, block spyware/adware and stop viruses. Consider retaining the right to execute a remote wipe of an asset’s memory if you believe it’s been stolen or hopelessly lost.
More than an object
When assessing the costs associated with a mobile device, remember that it’s not only the value of the physical item that matters, but also the importance and sensitivity of the data stored on it. We can help your business implement a cost-effective process for procuring and protecting all its technology.
We highly recommend you confer with your Miller Kaplan advisor to understand your specific situation and how this may impact you.