Brave New Mobile World, Part IV – Mobile Security Tips

Jeff Dettloff, Providence’s President and Chief Problem Solver, also serves as the 2012 President for the Capital Area IT Council (CAITC). Jeff moderated a CAITC panel discussion on mobility and the connected workforce at last fall’s Greater Lansing Business Showcase. For the next few weeks we will be sharing the knowledge we gained from attending this panel.

How does the new mobility affect your business? Are you in the fast lane? Please share your insights and experiences.

Mobile devices can do a lot for your company’s productivity. But they can also poke a few holes into your IT security plan. Here are a few short suggestions that will make your life easier and help to protect your corporate and personal data.

Sending an email with critical information? When you’re sending out pricing sheets, sales data, or other information that is meant for only certain eyes, avoid sending the data in the body of the email– the actual text of the message itself. Instead use an Adobe PDF, a spreadsheet, or a word processor file, something that can be attached to the email that you send.

What this helps you avoid is a scenario where the owner of a smart phone or tablet leaves it in a public area – perhaps on their kitchen counter during a party, or in a coffee shop – and the device uses a pop-up notification that the email has been received. If your critical data is in the body of the email it could be partially or fully exposed. Using an attachment helps avoid this danger.

What if your phone or tablet becomes lost? Or worse – stolen? In these worst case scenarios, nothing can give greater peace of mind than the ability to remotely erase that device. iPhones and iPads have a Remote Wipe feature right out of the box. One look at the Android Market shows literally dozens of options for your Android phone. But the important thing is to download it and configure it now. It won’t do you any good once your phone goes missing.

This next suggestion may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that you’re using passwords or pass-codes on your devices, and take a good look at all of the security settings. A configuration that leaves the phone unlocked for 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or more after last use means a longer window of time in which an unauthorized person can access your phone if lost or stolen. You should be able to configure the phone to lock down immediately or at least within a few minutes of your last keystroke. Take a look at those settings, and the more critical the information that is stored on the phone, the shorter that span of time needs to be.

The overall principle that should guide your policy and security choices is that these devices are there to help people do their work, and make your company more productive and efficient. Make sure that you choose tools that work the way your people work, and don’t inhibit their productivity.

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