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4 Mobile Security Tips to Keep Your Organization Safe

Week 4 of National Cyber Security Awareness Month focuses on our continuously connected lives in a rapidly developing digital world. Mobile security plays a big role in staying safe as more organizations than ever rely on cell phones, tablets, and laptops for business. Does your cybersecurity strategy keep mobile in mind? Here are four mobile security tips to help your organization stay secure in a connected and moving business environment.

1. Know What's Connected

The first step for any organization is to create an inventory of hardware – after all, if you don’t know what’s connected to your network, how can you secure it? If you’ve started implementing the CIS Controls, this might sound familiar. However, creating and maintaining an inventory is especially difficult when mobile devices enter the mix, since they’re not consistently connected to companies’ networks like desktops, printers, and other on-site systems.

If your organization is looking to implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or other mobile policies, consider including requirements for which devices may be used and let employees know what information will be necessary to participate. Since email is one of the most frequently-accessed work accounts, you might also check how off-site devices are connecting to your email systems. This will provide helpful information about employees’ habits and preferences, allowing you to address mobile access with security in mind.

2. Know What's Running

Once you’ve identified the mobile devices in use at your company, it’s time to create and maintain a software inventory – again, if your organization uses the CIS Controls, you might have tackled this for on-site devices. You need to know which applications are in use in order to keep your organization’s mobile devices (and the systems they interact with) secure. Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms can assist with this. Whether home grown, off-the-shelf, or something custom-built for your company, MDMs can provide your organization information about which applications and programs are installed. MDMs can also help by whitelisting wi-fi networks and enforcing password policies. Keep in mind that some MDMs can cause privacy concerns – both for employees and for the organization – depending on how much information they collect. If your company allows the use of personal devices, pay close attention to how your MDM works and provide transparent details about the process for users.

3. Monitor For Vulnerabilities

Unlike networked desktops which can be quickly scanned, checking mobile devices for vulnerabilities can be a serious challenge. In the mobile world, vulnerabilities can take advantage of hardware, operating systems, applications, physical locations, and network connections (including Bluetooth and NFC). In order to make an assessment, you’ll need to understand the devices in play, the data involved, and how your users interact with their devices. MDMs can also help monitor for vulnerabilities by addressing data and application security, protecting against network-based threats when using wi-fi, and monitoring for configuration changes.

Of course, one of the best defenses against cyber attack on work-connected devices is education. Make sure your employees know the risks of using mobile devices for work activities, and educate them about the importance of making sure applications are legitimate and up-to-date.

4. In Case of Emergency

Unlike desktops, cell phones and tablets are easier to misplace. What happens if your employee loses track of their work-connected mobile device? What information could it provide to a cybercriminal? Don’t wait for an emergency to answer these questions. When developing your mobile security strategy, be sure to include requirements such as:

  • two-factor authentication
  • password, pin, or pattern-protected lock screen
  • timed lock-out
  • anti-theft services

In the unfortunate event that an employee’s phone falls into the wrong hands, the right precautions will help cybercriminals from accessing company data. Anti-theft services allow your organization’s IT professionals to erase the device’s data remotely, protecting valuable assets and private information.

For more information about keeping your organization’s mobile devices secure, check out our Mobile Security Companion to the CIS Controls.