Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m among a growing number of people who have experienced the momentary panic of a missing smartphone. Even though I always find it eventually — on a nightstand or in the car — losing a smartphone is a worrisome occurrence. Fueling the panic is the widespread use of  Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which makes the smartphone essential for work as well as play and turns the device into a gateway into the business. For this reason, a lost device can be a huge security risk.

Time to sound the alarm

Unfortunately, many business owners aren’t taking the security risks of lost devices as seriously as they should. According to the 2013 AT&T Small Business Data Security Poll, only one quarter of those surveyed said they are seriously concerned about the security of their wireless devices—a 20 percent decrease from 2012.

More small companies should be concerned since every time a smartphone, laptop, or tablet leaves their control—even for a minute—it becomes a potential point of criminal entry into the business. If a data breach occurs, it can severely damage and even destroy the business. Consider this:

  • Over half (55 percent) of U.S. small businesses have suffered a data breach, and 53 percent have suffered multiple breaches.
  • The cost of a lost single piece of data can be $200,000 or more.
  • Nearly 60 percent of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack close permanently within six months.
Cyber security risks at your doorstep

Human intrusions aren’t the only threat to BYOD devices. Viruses and other malware can cripple a business. Here are some tips to help protect your devices:

Install mobile security software.

Make sure every device that accesses your business data is protected. Mobile security packages typically encrypt communications and provide a firewall, as well as spam and malware filters. Some also include a GPS tool that lets you track the location of devices, a remote call feature so you can you hear what’s going on around the device, and live chat and telephone support.

Use auto lock and remote wipe.

An auto lock feature sets the time allowed for your phone to be inactive before it requires a password for further use. A remote wipe feature allows you to erase all data from a mobile device if it’s lost or stolen.

Back up your data.

The best way to protect the data stored on a mobile device is to copy it elsewhere. You can copy it to your in-house server, but what will happen if that server crashes or a disaster strikes your business? The best strategy is to back up data to the cloud—third-party servers that you access over the Internet. A good cloud provider stores your information on redundant servers so it remains safer even if one of its servers goes down.

Watch your apps.

People have grown used to downloading mobile apps for a host of purposes, including productivity apps for business. Make sure your employees take steps to avoid infected apps. Teach them to choose apps only from well-known and reputable vendors and to check online reviews before they download.

Consider MDM.

Rather than worry about mobile security yourself, you might want to turn it over to a mobile device management (MDM) service, which can help you protect your devices from intrusions and respond appropriately if one goes missing. It can also assist with every aspect of mobile management, including monitoring and supporting devices and analyzing your mobile spending. Cloud-based MDM offers “set-and-forget” features that can be especially useful to small businesses.

 

Panic may be your first response to missing mobile devices, but not the most productive. What are you doing to help strengthen your company’s mobile security? Let us know.