5 Mobile Device Risks & How To Protect Your Organisation

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

On the whole, technology is a source of enormous gains for organisations across the world. Businesses, public sector and charities are all benefiting from the digital technology revolution we are going through, with productivity increases and cost savings some of the main advantages.

In time, if past revolutions are any indications, organisations will experience gains we can barely imagine. However, there are several downsides to technology.

Security weaknesses are one of the main challenges. As wonderful as it is that we can communicate more easily and quickly than ever before; criminals have readily exploited this same advantage for decades.

Our smartphones and tablets pose one of the greatest security risks to organisations. Staff and business leaders want to use them for work, but the bring your own device (BYOD) movement comes at a cost: Organisations are at greater risk from security breaches, data breaches and cyber threats.

5 Mobile Risks & How To Counter Them

1. Data breaches and leaks
Without a doubt, mobiles and tablets are the weakest links in any organisations data chain. They don't stay in the office, which means they're outside continuous security networks and vulnerable on home broadband and public Wi-Fi. Other systems and apps, including viruses, could be present, further increasing the risk factor.

It is the organisation's responsibility to provide training, policies - and, if needed - systems that protect personal devices to safeguard the organisation. One important way, to prevent data breaches - even more important after the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in May 2018 - is to password protect and encrypt sensitive documents, to prevent unexpected data breaches and leaks.

2. Vulnerable to attack
According to a HP study, 97% of employee devices contain privacy issues and 75% don't have any encryption, which means your data is vulnerable.

A smart way to prevent viruses spreading is to place a gatekeeper whenever an employee wants to access a device from home or off-site. Gaining access to company systems, including email, social networks, files, CRMs and other software should require logging in via a secure virtual private network (VPN), or other encrypted gateways.

3. Mixing personal and organisation data on the same device
One of the main BYOD nightmares is the mixing of personal and sensitive information - including passwords - on the same device. Especially when the user is in a senior role or position of trust. Malware, ransomware and other viruses could easily find their way into secure networks through this channel.

There are numerous ways to prevent these issues. Issuing anti-virus software, passcode management software (for organisation accounts on personal devices - including email) and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) software so you can more effectively monitor and detect risks.

4. Stolen devices
Smartphones are attractive targets for criminals, and so easy to take. Too many people carry them around or place them somewhere easily accessible to criminals. Since criminals are getting smarter - with software able to crack passwords available on the dark web - you might want to invest in remote wiping and control capabilities, to avoid any data breaches as a result of loss or theft.

5. Data compliance
With GDPR coming into force in under one year, now is the time to ensure your network is secure enough for employees to use their own devices without senior managers constantly worrying that one smartphone could cost the organisation 4% of annual revenue - or €20 million - whichever is higher.

Worrying about this won’t solve the problem. Take action now, to ensure your staff can still use their own devices without them putting everything at risk from cyber-attacks and hackers.

Worksheet: Emergency Communications Plan worksheet


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