Protecting data on mobile devices: Advice on how to prevent breaches

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One of the biggest hurdles that companies face when seeking to transform digitally involves data protection. A 2018 IMB-sponsored study showed that the average cost to a business from a single data breach is $3.86 million, a not-insubstantial figure for most businesses.

Look at it this way. If you had a shop, and every time someone went into your shop, they got ripped off, would you blame them if they didn’t come back?

That’s what happens in the digital marketplace when customers think you don’t take data privacy and security seriously. While collecting customer data is important for understanding how customers interact within your business, it’s equally important to keep their data – and other business-related data – safe from hackers and others with nefarious intent.

BYOD & Digital Transformation

One often-overlooked cause of breaches involves employees who bring their devices to work. While many organizations globally have adopted the practice of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to help support digital transformation goals, often both employers and employees don’t understand how this can affect security.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a personal smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Any of these can be utilized to gain access to a company’s digital network and cause enormous damage.

Personal devices usually have less security than centrally managed business devices, so it’s important to drive this point home. Informing employees and management about ways to prevent data breaches will help keep your network, and your business, safe from viruses, malware, and cyber attacks.

Here are some ways to help limit the chance of a security breach:

  • Decide who needs what data, and limit access to employees who need it.
  • Develop stringent authentication protocols to allow access, especially for applications critical to your business.
  • Devote resources to a mobile device management (MDM) system so that you can enforce your data protection policy and monitor access to data.
  • Ensure devices are secured before they’re granted access to your systems.
  • Ensure you’ve got an anti-virus program specifically designed for mobile devices and their operating systems.
  • Evaluate your current system regarding data accessibility for risks, then take action to mitigate damage from potential breaches.
  • Require electronic signatures to access data, which not only protects systems but improves workflows, allowing you to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency.
  • Use data encryption and data protections specific to your industry, including remote data wiping, PIN code access, and freezing access after so many failed log-in attempts.

BYOD may reduce IT costs and enhance operational flexibility, but businesses should also consider the cybersecurity threats it can enables. It’s no longer the system you’re defending, but the data itself.

Controlling Data Access

Controlling who can access data within your organization will go a long way towards protecting it. Business owners should ensure anyone with data access takes security measures to protect the data they’re accessing.

Determine how much access each employee needs. Does that new sales rep really need sensitive data regarding trade secrets, personal information of all your customers, and the data collected from business operations?

Creating levels that allow employees at certain levels to gain access makes sense. It’s the same idea as security clearances in the military. Protecting data and controlling access will increase customers’ confidence in your business. It’s a matter of prudence to limit access only to those personnel who need it.

Android-Specific Security

A Reuters article from 2019 explained why Google shut down a service it provided to wireless carriers that exposed weak spots in their network coverage. It didn’t want users or regulators scrutinizing this sharing of data.

This disappointed wireless carriers, who use the data when considering upgrades or extensions to their coverage. Even though the data is anonymous and sharing such has become an ordinary practice, the move shows how concerned Google is about even appearing lax with the privacy of and security for customers’ data.

Yet even many Android aficionados suspect Google’s commitments to privacy, so it’s understandable why they’re doing this. Past these obvious privacy concerns comes the very real damage security breaches can do. It’s important that employers ensure their employees keep both customer data and their systems safe.

Here are a few hacks Android users can use to increase both privacy and security on their devices:

  • Don’t trust unknown sources: Software from an unknown source could be malware, contain virus, or include security flaws in its coding. It’s best to disable software from unknown sources, which you can do by going to Settings > Security > Unknown Sources, and then making sure the box isn’t checked.
  • Encrypting devices: This is the best way to keep data private, and is easily done from the “security” menu in Android,
  • Keep software up-to-date: Often vulnerabilities occur just because updates haven’t been downloaded. To update software apps on an Android, go to Settings > About Phone > System Update.
  • Use a PIN: A PIN allows you sole control over who has access to your data. When used in conjunction with other locking measures – such as fingerprint or facial recognition – it can help prevent data from being sent on to Google through occasional automatic transmissions.

Regardless of what devices your employees might be using, anyone with access to sensitive data should understand the gravity of the problem should their device be the one through which a hacker gains access. Protecting your company’s reputation includes protecting your customers.

Author Bio: D. A. Rupprecht is an internationally-based freelance writer who writes about how technology is changing the way we do business. He also occasionally writes books.

EDITOR NOTE: This is a promoted post and should not be viewed as an editorial endorsement.

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