How to Protect Data in a Mobile World

by SEP Blog Team | Data Protection, Remote Data Backup

Two trends are changing the modern workplace: first, businesses are employing more virtual or remote workers and, second, the digital world is creating new threats. It's estimated that 42.5% of global workers will be mobile by 2022. The growth of mobile workers is a benefit to productivity both inside and outside the workplace. It is also a giant responsibility for the organization to enable the mobilization of their workforce. Whether on-site, at home, on the beach or traveling to a meeting, all businesses need the tools and processes in place to empower their workers’ safety as well as the security of company data.

Here are 10 ways to empower and secure your mobile workforce in the volatile digital age.

Define your Devices

Most organizations don't realize that they are opening their systems up for trouble if they allow any device into their infrastructure. If a business can’t define all of their devices in use, how are they supposed to remain in control over their system and all of their points of possible attack? One way organizations can mitigate risk is to create an approved list of devices and offer employees a choice from that list. It is also essential to have the right mobile device management strategy in place that can quickly perform remote wipe/removal of a compromised device from your system.

Use only Secure Apps

Apps are not always developed securely. Restrict what employees can download to company-issued devices. Organizations can configure their app stores to allow installation of approved apps only on devices used for work.

Always Backup

You can train employees on a backup policy, but that does not ensure they will backup the documents as you've requested, especially when they are on the go. A strategy that backs up all systems and all devices is critical to have in place. This strategy can be a hybrid of onsite backup and cloud-based services for mobile or remote devices. The cloud is a consistent way to make sure all backups are regularly completed, even if employees forget. However, if you choose to use cloud backups, you must ensure that all cloud data are backed up to your central backup infrastructure.

Have Public and Private Wi-Fi

Free public Wi-Fi for visitors, customers, and vendors is fundamental to secure company networks. Many organizations require the use of a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to company Wi-Fi from all work devices. Regardless of where they are working from, they are required to login to the internet via your company's VPN.

Create Levels of Access

This concept seems very basic but the truth is not every employee needs access to every file in the system. It is okay to restrict access to files and limit how and when data can be accessed. Restrict access according to location, necessity, and by departments. A department head might need access to financial records but that does not mean they need access to them at all times, especially when not in a secure location.

Encrypt your Data

Data encryption is a high level way of securing data, but it does require a lot of computing power so it is often used sparingly. If employees are working from a different country, this is an excellent option for keeping data secure. Encryption is a requirement for many industries, including finance and law. The use of encryption often is determined based on the type of data that remote workers must access.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Two-factor authentication is one of the most common ways to secure entry points. The most common example of two-factor authentication is entering a password for one device or account and requiring a passcode be sent to an alternate device or account before gaining access. Another version is three-of-five authentication, where five people have a key or password and a minimum of three must authenticate before anyone can gain access. This second method is excellent for C-level employees or high-level individuals who need access to protected or copyrighted information.

Require PIN-based Passwords

Enforcing either biometric or PIN-based device locking for all mobile devices is an excellent way to secure mobile devices. For example, Apple's fingerprint locking system is great but would be even better if it also required a PIN-code if the device has not been used in a while.

Don't use Devices to Store Data

What is one of the best ways to ensure your mobile devices aren't a security risk? Don't put data on them. Using a remote system can allow your company to provide a virtual window into what your employees need to access, rather than letting them take information wherever they go.

Create a Mobile Strategy

In the end, implementing a security protocol for an enterprise that allows employees to "Bring Your Own Device" or BYOD opens up an organization to both practical and ethical issues. Make it clear that any device used for work, even if purchased personally, becomes the property of the company if issues occur. This can encourage employees not to perform tasks like scrolling websites or downloading a gaming app to a device linked to your organization. The simple act of downloading even the smallest file can lead to potential threats. Always encourage that work devices are used for work and personal devices are used for personal access. Protecting your workforce creates a secure space that will allow for workers to take advantage of the perks of working from anywhere while still remaining secure.