How to secure company mobile phones handed out to employees
According to a study by Samsung, 93% of workers use their mobile phones for work purposes every day, with many of these devices issued by employers themselves. Other research shows that work mobile devices can raise productivity through improving flexibility, enhancing communication, and increasing collaboration between staff, suggesting that handing out corporate mobile phones to employees can be highly beneficial.
However, unsecure employee mobile phones can cause more problems than they’re worth, and may put a company at risk of severe data breaches from threats like phishing, malware, and wi-fi scams. So, considering the importance of avoiding such breaches, what can businesses do to protect their employee company phones and keep their data safe?
Invest in mobile security solutions
Perhaps the most obvious way to secure company phones is to invest in a mobile security solution. There are a wealth of options available, with different software offering different methods of protection. For instance, Wandera’s Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) solution provides protection at both the endpoint and network levels safeguarding users against threats like, malicious apps, MitM and phishing attacks.
Another useful piece of mobile security software is Avast Antivirus Security, which not only scans downloaded files and content on a phone’s memory, but will also scan external storage devices. What’s more, it frequently checks the email addresses in an individual’s contacts to see if they have been involved in any data breaches.
Remote wipe software is another effective form of mobile security, and can help keep data safe if an employee loses their phone. Take the Bitdefender Anti-Theft app, for example, which can locate and lock lost or stolen Android devices, helping to protect data from prying eyes by preventing access to the device. By also enabling users to wipe the data from their phone, the app provides an added layer of protection that helps to prevent company information from ending up in the wrong hands.
**Ensure the latest version of Android or Apple is installed **
The latest versions of Android or Apple both offer advanced mobile security measures, so it is imperative that employees have these installed. For Android phones, the Android 9.0 Pie update provides a huge variety of mobile security solutions, one being the requirement of apps to use HTTPS connections instead of HTTP. The former encrypts any data, making it almost impossible to intercept any data sent to or from the mobile.
Another change introduced by Android 9.0 Pie is the encryption of backups. Instead of just their login details, users must now enter their PIN, pattern, or password, and their login details to restore their device, giving Android phones an extra layer of protection.
Meanwhile, iOS 12 also provides Apple users with a number of mobile security upgrades, including password reuse auditing, where identical passwords are flagged up to users. Identical passwords make it much simpler for cybercriminals to attack a phone, so prompting users to avoid this is a useful update.
iOs 12 has also added a USB Restricted Mode to help protect data, disabling the iPhone just one hour after it is last locked, so it is only useable for charging unless a password is entered. In previous iOs betas, a password was only required for devices that had been locked for seven days. Consequently, criminals had a whole week to use USB unlocking tools to get past the lock screen and access the phone and its data. This significantly reduced window therefore nullifies the ability of criminals to unlock phones.
Update the company acceptable use policy
Updating your acceptable use policy to incorporate mobile phone behaviour will also help protect a business’s data. This should clarify what employees’ responsibilities are regarding accessing company programs either on their work or personal phones. Consequently, the policy should include rules around registering personal devices before using them for work purposes, protecting their devices with secure passwords, and notifying the company if either of their mobiles are lost or stolen.
Furthermore, it might be worth restricting the sensitivity of data that employees can access on their personal mobiles, especially if a company has protectively marked information. Encouraging the use of VPNs is another useful mobile security solution, as this allows employees to securely access private networks when using public networks, reducing the risk of their devices being hacked.