Mobile devices are everywhere. Smartphones, tablets, smartwatches—we’re surrounded by connected devices. While there are plenty of benefits to the mobile device boom, it also creates some challenges. Mobile devices can be particularly problematic for businesses, as it can be difficult to secure so many different endpoints at once, especially when many of the endpoints are owned and operated by employees. As you think about your company’s cybersecurity strategy, make sure you’re accounting for mobile device security risks and the protection of these vulnerable endpoints. In this article, we’ll give you a few practical suggestions for how you can do this.
What is Mobile Device Security?
According to a recent industry report, 67 percent of business leaders say the use of personal mobile devices by remote workers has had a negative impact on their organization. Furthermore, 55 percent believe smartphones are the most vulnerable endpoint in the entire organization. In a separate study, 57 percent of technology executives express their worry and concern over the protection of non-managed devices, while 71 percent of CIOs say they plan to increase staffing for security operations. With more than half of all company “computers” now consisting of mobile devices, it’s clear that there’s no turning back. Mobile is the present and the future. It’s up to businesses to implement proactive security strategies that safeguard against dangerous and costly cyber threats. Mobile Device Security is the portion of a cybersecurity strategy that deals with implementing, monitoring, and managing the protection of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices that are vulnerable to outside attacks and data theft.
Top Mobile Device Security Risks
When it comes to mobile device security threats, there are several types that business leaders must be aware of and prepared for. This includes:
- Application threats. One of the benefits of using smart mobile devices is that they give employees access to many different applications and software. But this is also one of the biggest concerns. Bad actors can create malicious apps that masquerade as legitimate software and convince people to download them. These apps can steal sensitive data, record keystrokes, and do almost anything else that they’re programmed to do.
- Network threats. When a user connects to an unsecured Wi-Fi network, malicious actors can exploit the device/system using something cybersecurity professionals call “man in the middle attacks.” Once one of these attacks is initiated, the hacker can intercept, monitor, and steal all data that’s sent over that connection.
- Social engineering threats. Phishing is one of the most popular types of social engineering attacks. In this method, the hacker tricks an unsuspecting user into clicking a malicious link and/or downloading a dangerous piece of software that gives them access to sensitive data and company information.
- OS exploits. Hackers spend a lot of time trying to target smartphone and mobile device operating systems. They do so by sniffing out vulnerabilities within the architecture that haven’t been prosperity protected by the OS developers. Bad actors can use these vulnerabilities as entry points and exploit your own network.
- Physical threats. Not all mobile device security threats are complex and technical. Physical threats exist as well. This includes broken, stolen, or lost devices that get into the wrong hands and expose sensitive information.
5 Ways to Implement a Mobile Device Security Policy
As you can see, there’s no shortage of variety when it comes to mobile device security threats. Protect your business starts with implementing a policy that proactively defends your organization against as many of these threats as possible.
1. Set Clear Policies Around Mobile Devices
Don’t expect your employees to research mobile threats and create their own personal policies for smart device management. The reality is that if you don’t set clear policies around mobile devices, nobody else will. It’s up to you to be crystal clear about:
- What devices can be used
- Which operating systems are permitted (and requirements around updates)
- What can be accessed on company mobile devices
- Rules regarding wiping devices (and how much access the IT department has)
Password requirements and authentication rules
2. Strengthen Passwords
Password hygiene is crucial to maintaining security. If you can get your team to create stronger passwords (and regularly update those passwords), you’ll eliminate a lot of the vulnerabilities that could otherwise plague your organization.
Be clear about what you expect in passwords. For the best results, require at least 10 characters, a variety of characters (including letters, numbers, and symbols), and discourage the use of common password phrases like company names, birthdays, pet names, etc.
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Highly discourage remote employees from using public Wi-Fi at coffee shops, airports, and other similar locations. However, if they do need to use a mobile device on public Wi-Fi, require the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to add a layer of protection against possible hacks and man in the middle attacks.
4. Implement MDM Software
Mobile device management (MDM) software is something you should consider when it comes to managing mobile devices in today’s hostile cyber landscape. MDM software gives your IT admins the ability to manage devices remotely and adds an extra layer of defense against dangerous threats and hacks.
5. Find the Right Partners
At the end of the day, you might not have the internal resources needed to fully protect your organization against mobile device security risks. If that’s the case, partnering with companies and service providers that do is the right move. This is one area where outsourcing can make a positive difference for your organization.
Partner With Third Wave Innovations
At Third Wave Innovations, we lock down your devices, secure your data, and help you avoid unnecessary exposure to dangerous threats that could compromise the integrity of your business. If you’re looking for managed IT, cloud security, and other related services to help you safeguard your company, we’re here to help. It’s our mission to help you build a stronger organization.