Here are a few mobile security measures that you can implement to keep your data protected when working with a remote team.
Remote teams can be challenging to manage. The obstacle of protecting sensitive and critical business data and information is even greater. Over 4.3 million employees in the U.S. work from home full-time, according to figures from Global Workplace Analytics. To perform their operational duty uninterruptedly, remote workers dispersed across the globe need access to corporate data, documents, credentials, and other similar online resources. Even though technology makes this process extremely easy, it poses significant security risks as well.
No matter how inconvenient or risky a situation may be during remote work transitioning, businesses ought to find a way to adapt and revamp their business model for sustainability. It must, however, be a complete adaptation. Businesses working with remote teams should pay heed to mobile security issues as a whole. In fact, it is an equal opportunity issue that extends to every remote employee, no matter how low-tech their job description is or what remote tool they use.
Because remote team members have access to a multitude of devices (operating in different OS platforms such as Android, iOS, macOS & Windows) to execute operational tasks, there is an increased risk of these devices being infiltrated by malware and resulting in data leakage or compromise when lost or are stolen.
To combat this, we have compiled a few mobile security measures that you can implement to keep your data protected when working with a remote team. However, before deep-diving in, let’s first understand what exactly mobile security is.
Mobile security: What does it mean?
Mobile security, also commonly referred to as wireless security encompasses the frameworks and policies designed by an organization to protect critical and sensitive data and information on smartphones, tablets, laptops, or any other portable device along with the networks to which they are connected from cyber threats and security vulnerabilities.
Why is mobile security important?
As mobile devices are increasing in multitudes, and the manner remote employees use them are rapidly expanding, it becomes prime for businesses to ensure that these mobile devices are safeguarded. The problem statement is particularly pronounced in enterprises where employee-owned devices are connected to the corporate network in an insecure manner.
Due to the growing presence of corporate data on personal devices, cybercriminals are more inclined to target mobile devices as well as back-end systems. Through mobility solutions such as mobile device management, IT departments can define the acceptable use policy guidelines in Bring your own device (BYOD) and enforce pre-determined sets proactively. The effects of security breaches can be extensive for businesses, including disrupting IT operations and causing productivity to suffer if systems are crashed and taking preventive measures, thus becoming imperative.
What are the steps for achieving mobile device security?
Multi-layered security and enterprise solutions combined are essential for securing mobile devices and other portable devices used by the employees in remote work scenarios. Each organization needs to determine what solutions are most appropriate for its unique corporate network. The following best practices can help you start:
1. Educate Employees
Working with a remote team is most secure when your employees are knowledgeable about data security. Even though your team may consider themselves quite tech-savvy and knowledgeable about how to appear on the internet, they might be lacking the most basic security measures they should be employed to protect their own identity and the enterprise data. In fact, a recent study reported on CNBC found that employee negligence is the biggest threat to cybersecurity for U.S. companies. Therefore, assembling a department on data security and a manual for remote employees could be more beneficial in such a case than being sorry.
Also, as per a report, a staggering 28% of remote workers fail to implement basic security measures such as staging a password or screen lock feature on their mobile devices containing business documents. A sizable figure of remote workers accesses their remote workspace operations with unprotected network terminals, making it a vulnerable primary workstation.
Businesses should conduct informative sessions with remote employees to emphasize the importance of recognizing and responding to suspicious emails and links, establishing secure passwords, and understanding the dangers of public Wi-Fi networks. It is possible to ensure your organization is working toward keeping critical and sensitive business data safe when the remote employees are educated on data security, instead of businesses alone shouldering all the responsibility.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Major populations across the globe are surprisingly lax about passwords. National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) survey indicates that among the ten most common passwords are “123456,” “qwerty,” “111111,” and possibly the most embarrassing “password”? Passwords with weak encryption pose a significant security risk to your organization, especially when remote work is conducted.
While it may seem obvious, maintaining data security when conducting remote work highly depends on using strong, secure passwords. Remote workers can generate passwords that are hacker-resistant by using a password generator. Taking measures such as changing the passwords in a regular interval and not using the same credentials for different platforms could lessen the probability of contingency.
Using an online password manager that can generate random encrypted credentials while safeguarding the primary passwords is another way that organizations and employees can mitigate the risk of cyber threats during remote working. As a result, the need to remember several user credentials for remote employees for every platform can be eliminated; ensuring the sensitive corporate data remains uncompromised.
3. Apply Two-factor Authentication
A crucial element of mobile security and unauthorized access control of the corporate network is ensuring the identity of the eligible user. To cope with the risks of cyber intrusion, many organizations turn to two-factor authentication (2FA). This method confirms the authorized user’s identity by first requesting the user credentials such as username and password in conjunction with an additional set of information such as a one-time password sent on the cell phone or an answer to a secret question.
Even though credentials of the end-users can be compromised or stolen, with 2FA, there is a reduced possibility that a malicious actor will possess the secret security question’s answer or one-time password.
When username and passwords no longer suffice in this digital age, adding an extra layer of security to the process of user authentication empowers remote workers and their organizations with added peace of mind. Hackers and other nefarious characters are deterred by two-factor authentication. A security measure such as this is recommended for businesses.
4. Use A Virtual Private Network
To change the monotonous working atmosphere, many remote workers establish workstations at local coffee shops or restaurants once in a while for a change. Connecting to an unsecured public Wi-Fi network increases the likelihood of sensitive information and important data being leaked or exposed.
Organizations certainly would prevent themselves from making their employees feel restricted from working from a location where they feel most motivated and energized. During such instances, it becomes imperative for organizations to ensure that those employees are connected to the corporate network using a virtual private network (VPN).
A virtual private network (VPN) is software that encrypts the data over the internet to establish a secure connection. Before signing on to public Wi-Fi networks, remote workers can enable a VPN to encrypt their incoming network traffic and eliminate any signs of possible malware infection. In this manner, remote workers can safeguard their online activity and critical information from prying eyes when connected to a public or unsecured Wi-Fi network.
5. Use Encryption Software
Other ways to ensure mobile security for companies and their remote workers include using encryption software. In short, encryption is the conversion of information into ciphertext or code. The data can only be decrypted and accessed by individuals who possess the key or cipher.
Having encryption software at your disposal adds an additional layer of protection for your business and remote workers. For instance, encryption software is the first line of defense in the event that a remote employee’s device such as mobile or laptop is lost or misplaced, and a malicious actor later recovers it.
Additionally, any applications storing corporate data, communication applications, or email correspondence used by businesses should utilize end-to-end encryption to prevent any unwanted data leakage. Programs like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, for instance, allow your remote workers to easily encrypt files they share with colleagues.
In addition to implementing the above measures mentioned to safeguard your corporate assets, data, and information against malicious actors; a blend of Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions in the mobility ecosystem can further empower the businesses to remotely manage and administer the remote users and devices.
This security measure ensures that all the mobile devices connected to the corporate network carrying sensitive data and information are safeguarded while eliminating or restricting access to unauthorized users and applications.
It isn’t an easy task for organizations to ensure that mobile devices and other portable devices are secure, but it is a task that enterprise leaders should prioritize. As hackers evolve their cyber tactics, it is crucial that organizations constantly evaluate their mobile security solutions and consider new security measures as they emerge.