The jury is still out on when - or if - employees will be returning to the office in 2022. But one thing we do know for sure is that remote work is here to stay for a large majority of us. This means that we'll be continuing to use our personal mobile devices to access company data - a big security risk which is often overlooked!
Mobile Device Security Best Practices
We've compiled a short list of the 7 key things we recommend you do to keep your mobile devices secure, more important than ever with the jaw-dropping rise in cybersecurity crimes that we're all seeing.
We've also created a short quiz on mobile security awareness - take a run through if you want to get a feel for where your organization ranks before you read on!
Or, just keep scrolling if you want to learn more about mobile device security for your remote workers and take the quiz at the end. 😉
Table of Contents
1. Turn User Authentication On
It's so easy for laptops, tablets and smartphones to get lost or stolen as we leave them in taxi cabs, restaurants, airplanes...the list goes on.
The first thing to do is to make sure that all your mobile user devices have the screen lock turned on, and that they require a password or PIN to gain entry. There is a ton of valuable personal information on the device!
Most devices have Face ID and Touch ID, which certainly makes access easier, but not necessarily more secure.
Regardless of which method you choose, make sure ALL your devices are protected by making sure you are who you say you are - and if you do use passwords, be sure not to miss tip #4 below!
2. Update Your Operating Systems (OS) Regularly
If you're using outdated software your risk of getting hacked skyrockets. Vendors such as Apple, Google and Microsoft are constantly providing security updates to stay ahead of security vulnerabilities.
Don't ignore those alerts to upgrade your laptop, tablet or smartphone. To help with this, make sure you have automatic software updates turned on by default on your mobile devices. Regularly updating your operating system ensures you have the latest security configurations available!
When it comes to your laptop, your IT department or your IT services provider should be pushing you appropriate software updates on a regular basis.
Be sure to take a moment to hit "restart" otherwise it won't do you much good!
3. Avoid Public Wi-Fi
Although it's very tempting to use that free Wi-Fi at the coffee shop, airport or hotel lobby - don't do it.
Any time you connect to another organization’s network, you’re increasing your risk of exposure to malware and hackers.
There are so many online videos and easily accessible tools that even a novice hacker can intercept traffic flowing over Wi-Fi, accessing valuable information such as credit card number, bank account numbers, passwords and other private data.
Interestingly, although public Wi-Fi and bluetooth are a huge security gap and most of us (91%) know it, 89% of us choose to ignore it.
4. Use a Password Manager
Let's be honest, passwords are not disappearing any time soon, and most of us find them cumbersome and hard to remember. Not to mention, we're also asked to change them frequently which makes the whole process even more painful.
Enter the password manager, which you can think of as a "book of passwords" locked by a master key that only you know.
Not only do they store passwords, they also generate strong, unique passwords that save you from using your cat's name or child's birthday...over and over.
Although Microsoft has enabled password removal on their Microsoft 365 accounts, we're still a long way from being rid of them forever!
We also absolutely insist that you pair your password manager with Multi Factor Authentication (MFA, also known as 2FA) which is critical to protecting your online applications and services.
5. Remote Lock and Data Wipe
Every business should have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that includes a strict remote lock and data wipe policy.
Under this policy, whenever a mobile device is believed to be stolen or lost, the business has the ability to protect the lost data by remotely wiping the device or, at a minimum, locking access.
Where this gets a bit sticky is that you're essentially giving the business permission to delete all personal data as well, as typically in a BYOD situation the employee is using the device for both work and play.
Most IT security experts view remote lock and data wipe as a basic and necessary security caution, so employees should be educated and made aware of any such policy in advance.
6. Cloud Security and Data Backup
Keep in mind that all of your public cloud-based apps and services are also being accessed by employee-owned mobile devices, increasing your risk.
For starters, back up your cloud data! Should your device be lost or stolen, you'll still want to be able to quickly access any data that might have been compromised.
Select a cloud platform that maintains a version history of your files and that allows you to roll back to those earlier versions, at least for the past 30 days.
Google’s G Suite, Microsoft Office 365, and Dropbox all support this.
Once those 30 days have elapsed, however, deleted files or earlier versions are gone for good.
You can safeguard against this by investing in a cloud-to-cloud backup solution, which will back up your data for a relatively nominal fee each month.
7.Understand and Utilize Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM)
Mobile security has become the hottest topic in the IT world. How do we allow users to access the data they need remotely while also keeping that data safe from whatever is lurking around on these potentially unprotected devices?
The solution is two-fold: Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM).
Mobile Device Management is the configuration, monitoring, and management of the personal devices your employees use, such as phones, tablets, and laptops.
Mobile Application Management is the configuration, monitoring, and management of the applications on those mobile devices. This includes things like Microsoft 365 and authenticator apps.
When combined, MDM and MAM can become a powerful security solution, preventing unauthorized devices from accessing your company network of applications and data.
Note that both of these solutions should be sourced, implemented and managed by IT experts - either inhouse or outsourced - that are familiar with mobile security. As an example, you can take a look at this short case study on how we implemented Microsoft Intune MDM for a healthcare provider, including the details behind the implementation.
Worried about your organization's mobile cybersecurity? Start by taking our new, interactive Mobile Security Quiz to see how your business stacks up, and learn what you can do to improve!