Securing your mobile devices, including laptops, tablets, and mobile phones is critical to keeping your corporate data safe. In today’s global market, it’s not uncommon for SMB owners and employees to spend a lot of time traveling. That means lugging along a laptop or tablet and other electronics. Electronics that have sensitive company information saved on them or access to sensitive company information. If you or one of your sales people lost a laptop, how would that affect your business?

Data from Ponemon suggests that only 5 percent of missing laptops are ever recovered, and according to Kensington, 80 percent of the cost of a lost laptop is from data breach. Recovering from a data breach can cost a company millions. Securing your mobile devices, including laptops, tablets, and mobile phones is critical to keeping your corporate data safe.

Securing Mobile Devices

In today’s security environment, keeping mobile devices secure is a critical part of maintaining a strong business. What if you are traveling from Tennessee to see a customer in Chicago and turn your back for three seconds to put your shoes on while going through security? Mobile devices frequently disappear at TSA checkpoints due to mixed up devices and even outright theft. If your device is stolen, what company data is at risk? What personal data is at risk?

Here’s another scenario: What if you’re checking email on the airport’s public wi-fi and a hacker snags your username and password?  This can happen over the network, it maybe it’s just someone looking over your shoulder as you work. Either way, what damage could a criminal do with that access?

It may never happen to you, but if it does, you should be prepared. Here are 8 steps to help you secure the mobile devices that keep your business running:

  1. Use a proximity alarm. This is most useful with a laptop or tablet. A proximity alarm is set to alert you when you are beyond a certain distance from your device. In airports or anywhere it’s possible you could forget to pick up your device, this can prevent you from forgetting or losing the device.
  2. Password protect everything. If you don’t have a password protecting the log-in for your laptop, tablet, and mobile phone, you’re inviting trouble. Passwords aren’t foolproof, but sometimes, they offer enough resistance to make a criminal drop the device in favor of something that’s less trouble.
  3. Disable booting from a CD or USB. Having a password on your laptop is great, but hackers and tech savvy criminals will know how to boot the computer from a CD or USB. It’s easy, and it allows the bad actor to bypass any password protection on your device.To keep your laptop secure, disable booting from a CD or USB.
  4. Encrypt your hard drive. Encrypting your hard drive adds another layer of security that makes it more difficult for hackers to get to your sensitive data. Given enough time and computing resources, they might access the hard drive, but encryption will probably make it not worth their effort to try.
  5. Make sure your device is up-to-date. Hackers look for vulnerabilities. Devices that haven’t been properly patched and updated will have exploitable vulnerabilities that make it easy to gain access to the device, to the information on the devices, and to your corporate network where there are much greater spoils waiting to be plundered.
  6. Use a virtual private network (VPN). Public networks, such as those found in airports, coffee shops, and hotels, are a playground for hackers. Using these networks, hackers can eavesdrop on your communications and even record user names and passwords as they’re sent across the network when you log into web sites or even your corporate network. One way to defend against that risk is to use a VPN which is password protected.
  7. Ditch the USB key in favor of cloud file storage. USB keys are small and easy to lose. That presentation you loaded on the USB key you lost could contain sales projects or sensitive customer information. Don’t risk losing a physical drive. Instead, upload your files to a secure online file storage application such as OneDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive.Don’t risk losing a physical drive. Instead, upload your files to a secure online file storage application.
  8. Install a locator app. Many mobile devices come with locator apps installed. Android devices have Find My Device and Apple products have Find My iPhone. But if your device doesn’t have a locator app installed, get one. Depending on which app you chose, it could be free, or you may have to pay a monthly fee. Either way, you’ll be able to find your mobile device or laptop if it’s lost.

Keeping your mobile devices secure isn’t something you should assume just happens. You have some responsibility, but these steps should help you ensure that if your device is lost, it won’t be accessed and it can be recovered.