The growth of mobile technology is changing every industry and reaching all corners of the world. According to a report by industry giant Ericsson, 70% of the world’s population will be using smartphones by 2020 and 90% will be covered by mobile broadband networks.[1] More adults now access the internet through smartphones than through desktop or laptop computers.[2]

Many companies allow employees to use their own mobile devices for work projects and communications — a policy known as “bring your own device” or BYOD. While this reduces company costs for separate devices and gives employees greater flexibility and choice, accessing company systems through personal devices can create a host of security headaches. Using personally owned devices for work sometimes leads to relaxed habits about passwords, opening links, photos and attachments, use of social media and information sharing — all of which can put a company’s systems at risk.

Experts say mobile malware threats present a serious security issue. Malicious viruses can infiltrate a mobile device through text messages or links and potentially enter a company’s networks if safeguards are not up to date. To compound matters, many smartphone users are slow to update their phones’ operating systems. Malware and malicious apps also have been found in legitimate mobile app stores.

Cybersecurity experts recommend mobile technology security policies include the following points to keep company systems secure:[3]

  • Determine the organization’s requirements and culture. Consider how users may access sensitive data with mobile devices, such as an employee taking a sales order with a tablet.
  • Look at vulnerabilities and applicable laws to address potential legal issues related to sensitive data.
  • Apply mobile policies to all levels of employees.
  • Use data encryption or passwords to restrict mobile resources and applications.
  • Limit use of applications such as the camera or microphone to prevent malware from surreptitiously recording confidential company meetings.
  • Segregate personal data residing on the device from company data.
  • Perform real-time compliance monitoring of personal devices.
  • Use remote lock or remote wipe to protect company information if a device is lost or stolen.
  • Continually educate employees on promptly updating software on their mobile devices.

[1] “Ericsson Mobility Report: 70 percent of world’s population using smartphones by 2020,” press release highlight the report findings, June 3, 2015. Available at: https://www.ericsson.com/news/1925907

[2] “Insights from KPCB US and global internet trends 2015 report,” by Dave Chaffey, June 11, 2015. Available at: http://www.smartinsights.com/internet-marketing-statistics/insights-from-kpcb-us-and-global-internet-trends-2015-report/.

[3] “10 Best Practices for BYOD Policy,” Dark Reading blog from Information Week, Aug. 31, 2015. Available at: http://www.darkreading.com/mobile/10-best-practices-for-byod-policy/d/d-id/1321986.

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