Data Security in a Mobile World: 5 Top Risks & How to Avoid Them

  • Buffer

The use of mobile devices has increased so rapidly that businesses struggle to keep up with appropriate security measures. Small businesses often assume enterprises are the only businesses who get attacked and leave themselves vulnerable. The ways mobile data may be compromised are myriad. While you cannot achieve bulletproof protection, you can take simple measures to drastically reduce data security risk.

 

Here’s what you need to be aware of and some tips to help you avoid being compromised.
Man-In-The-Middle

Known also as MITM, this type of cyber attack is exactly what it sounds like. A malicious person jumps into the digital conversation between two people. More specifically, information is stolen from the data being sent between two devices. These attacks are especially easy to conduct when someone is using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Using apps that lack encryption and have too much access to personal data also opens you up to this type of attack.

 

If you or your employees conduct business via mobile devices, you may fall prey to this risk. Consider using a Virtual Private Network while working away from your secure network. Banning the use of open Wi-Fi to access business information is another way to help prevent this type of attack.

 

Physical Loss

Mobile devices are small. They’re easy to misplace or drop. They’re easy to steal. Despite our best intentions, these things are bound to happen. One of the best ways to protect your business data from becoming compromised in these situations is to use the fingerprint lock on your homescreen. It is arguably the most secure way to prevent someone from accessing anything stored on your phone. If you have an Android device with a removable SD card for expanded storage, be aware that it’s possible for someone to take that out and recover data from it without unlocking your screen.

 

Malware

On the opposite end of the spectrum from high-profile data breaches are the accidental type that befall small businesses. One employee connects to the company network, opens an email attachment containing malware, then all the data accessible on your network becomes vulnerable to theft. You probably won’t even know it happened. Malware can slow your network down and precipitate identity theft.

 

You likely have antivirus software installed on your computer, but that’s not good enough if you have mobile devices connecting to your network. Endpoint Security — having virus protection on every device — will significantly mitigate this problem. Software as a Service (SaaS) endpoint security is a good option for protecting laptops, smartphones, and other mobile devices at all times. This enables off site administrators to be responsible for monitoring and devices which are off site to be protected.

 

Updates

You know it’s vital to keep your computer software up-to-date due to security patches, but not everyone understands the same is true for mobile devices. All the software on your device is constantly being tweaked and updated, often those updates include security patches to fix vulnerabilities that put your data at risk. If you don’t have apps set to update automatically, they may be old versions. Sometimes even mobile operating system updates aren’t immediately noticeable unless you look for them. Even if your device is set to update everything automatically, you may still miss updates if you aren’t connected to Wi-Fi or you get signed out of the Play Store or the App Store. Make it a habit to check for regular updates. You can even set reminders for your team in a shared calendar.

 

Employees

Many of the risks above come down to a lack of education or of diligence on the part of your employees. Losing a device, failing to lock it properly, using third-party apps, or opening questionable emails on company Wi-Fi are all pretty easily avoidable. Train employees in best practices for mobile data security. Make training a regular event, but keep it brief and simple. Give your employees clear instruction, making sure everyone is able to implement security practices. On your end, limit access to sensitive data to only those people who require access. Consider a company policy regarding data breaches caused by careless employees.

 

The risks to your data are always changing. Fortunately, with vigilance and regular employee training, you can keep your data safe.

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