Published June 08, 2012
Mobile phones are becoming as commonplace as PCs in small businesses, which is why protecting the devices should be a priority. While large businesses may be targeted more often, small businesses aren’t immune to hackers.
“Larger firms have far more security in place than the small guys,” says Andrew Hoog, Chief Investigative Officer at Via Forensics, a digital forensics and security company. “Typically small businesses are easier to compromise and take longer to detect.” According to Hoog, since small businesses usually have less financial controls in place, hackers will take $5,000 to $10,000 from a bunch of small businesses instead of waiting for millions from one big business.
Thankfully it won’t cost a small business owner much to protect their mobile phones and the ones employees are using. But it will require the company to institute policies and protections and to stick by them.
According to security experts, one of the easiest ways to protect data on a smartphone is to make sure it has a password and the auto lock feature is enabled.
“One of the potential problems is if you lose the device or it’s stolen someone can access corporate information,” says Nick Pegley, vice president of Marketing at All Covered IT Services from Konica Minolta. “If it’s protected with a passcode and auto lock they won’t have access to the corporate data.”
If you lose an iPhone or iPad you can use the feature provided by Apple that tells you the location of the phone. According to Pegley, you can go to any PC or Mac and log into the Apple Website to see where the device is. “It’s an incredibly handy feature,” says Pegley. “It works until the battery runs out.”
In addition to having a password and auto lock enabled, Hoog says it’s up to the business owner to make sure the phones have encryption and that employees are not downloading suspicious attachments, installing unsecure apps or visiting Websites that could put the phones and thus the computer network at risk.
“We strongly encourage them to take a look at any policies,” says Hoog, noting that employees need to know what they can and can’t do with their mobile phones if they are used for business and connected to the network.
One of the attractions of using a smartphone to conduct business is the ability to access the Internet from anywhere. But experts warn against jumping on Wi-Fi networks, unless it’s one you know is secure.
According to Hoog, it’s easy for hackers to impersonate a wireless network and launch a malicious attack.
“You have to think hard whether or not you use other people’s wireless networks,” says Hoog. “We suggest considering limiting the use of Wi-Fi outside of work and home.”
It’s also important for the devices to be completely cleaned of any data before they are sold or donated, says Pegley. He says to use the option to do a complete erase before getting rid of the old phone.
“Often people will think to delete the photos but they won’t think to delete their e-mail,” says Pegley.