Mobile Data: Information in Motion – and at Risk

Balancing Data Protection and User Productivity

Stephen Nardone

Today’s workers expect to access company information wherever and whenever they need it. Certainly, that improves your business’s efficiency and productivity. But it also exposes you to a gaping hole in security that can be difficult to patch.

Issuing your own devices won’t solve the problem. A study done for enterprise content collaboration specialist Huddle by Ipsos Mori found that 73% of U.S. office workers using enterprise-issued tablets admitted to downloading unauthorized applications, as did 62% using company smartphones.

Most employees these days are using their own devices. If they’re poorly secured, hackers can steal your data and wreak havoc, not only for you, but for your customers. Recovery can take months, and few things are worse for your reputation than a high-profile breach.

A Top Concern with No Single Solution

Everybody loves the convenience of mobility, but over half of executives in a new IDG Mobile Enterprise survey identified security as the top concern associated with it. Leaders worried not only about hackers and theft, but data leaks.

Despite their concerns, companies still haven’t developed a uniform policy to address mobile security. Instead, they are using a patchwork of solutions, including remote wipe, mobile device management software, and encryption.

Enterprises are increasingly turning towards Mobile Device Management (MDM), which takes complete control over employee devices used for work. A smaller number are trying Mobile Application Management (MAM), which allows IT administrators to manage and secure company applications across devices.

Using two-factor authentication and making sure applications are regularly patched and updated will also go a long way toward reducing risk. But you have to make the process easy for employees, or they won’t use it.

Many companies have adopted or plan to use cloud-based MDM or MAM, which offers the advantage of getting users deployed quickly. It also allows for easy updates in the rapidly-changing mobile environment.

Getting Mobile Security Right

To choose the best mobile security system for your company, you should do an enterprise-wide security assessment. And because mobile security is fundamentally a people problem, it’s essential to establish training for all your employees on subjects like phishing, downloads, passwords, and the use of public Wi-Fi.

If you don’t have the resources for a comprehensive in-house program, consider outsourcing to a managed security service, which will help you establish coherent procedures and controls, set up ongoing monitoring for compliance, and bring your risk to an acceptable level.