Mobility and Security
Can You Have Both?
Late in 2014, research stated the number of active mobile devices exceeded the total population of the world. And that number will continue to grow. Not all of these devices are being used for business, but the separation of personal and work time is diminishing. Employees state they have a better work-personal balance by using their mobile devices. They also feel that mobile applications make them more productive.
Studies show a large majority of employees use smartphones for work. At a minimum, they are reading and responding to business emails. Many do not password protect the devices and often attach to unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Then there is the statistic that over three million smartphones were stolen in 2013 according to Consumer Reports.
Smartphones and tablets should be viewed as very small laptops. They have the same computing power and storage capabilities of the best laptops from a few years ago. As a business owner, would you let your employees take laptops out of the office with no passwords or not worry about how they accessed your data? So why are these mobile devices treated differently?
Your employees consider these devices inexpensive and disposable. They are “only looking” at emails while they checkout other social media, so why worry about security? There is a battle between your requirements to protect critical business data and the convenience employees are accustom to when using mobile devices.
Business owners need to ask themselves if they are protecting their customer, vendor and employee confidentiality at all times. Are they controlling data integrity when providing anywhere, anytime access to business assets? What data is accessible, and probably downloadable, to employees when not in the office?
Requiring passwords, using virtual private networks (VPN), encrypting data and implementing mobile device management are just some of the technical options to improve security. If you allow Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD), a complete written understanding of how you protect your business data on their personal devices is critical.
Most important, make your employees part of the solution. Educate them on the importance of data security. Provide them standard policies and procedures. Let them know the freedom of mobility brings with it responsibility and accountability.