Over the last few years the business communication is experiencing revolutionary changes due to the enhanced capacities and popularity of mobile devices. In fact, in most of the commercial organizations the mobility has become one of the core aspects of IT strategy of many companies. The initial phase of empowering the mobiles with some internet capabilities is over and the current phase is seeing a content development of smartphones/android phones to match or, in some cases, even surpass the capabilities of a PC or laptop. In other words, one can work remotely or even while on the go. It has helped many personnel of an enterprise. The CEOs can remain connected with their business 24X7 even when travelling across the globe, and IT manager can review, revise or revamp the enterprise software right from his home while a customer representative can secure an offshore project while travelling through a public transport. However, apart from empowering the people, the mobility has its own set of challenges and security threat tops the list. This 2 part series will focus on the security threats faced while using the mobile devices for business communication and the solution for such threats.
IoT The IoT is a revolutionary development in the mobile IT field but along with offering wonderful benefits for well-intended users, it has also empowered malicious hackers. Their evil viruses have got more routes/mediums to travel through and plague the IT system. Right from your car’s dashboard to your smartwatch, android phone and wearable apps, numerous utility items can now have an IP address and could be used by hackers to steal, sell, misuse, or simply damage your crucial business data affecting your business, revenue and customers. Hence, securing your office PCs/laptops is not enough, you also need to take suitable preventive measures while using your smartwatches, android phones, wearable apps and other internet enabled devices.
Data Breaching Thanks to the low-cost, effective carrier networks, the connectivity is literally “in the air”- you don’t necessarily need any wires to remain connected. But the basic level of security offered by such networks is clearly not recommended to shield your vital data that can have a decisive effect on your business. The major threat here is the data breaching and manipulation. You need a high level f encryption to ensure that the data is transmitted and archived securely by the intended user. Even if the data is somehow manipulated by malicious user, you will come to know when your encrypted data is tempered by unauthorized person.
Unauthorized Access Unauthorized access to your wireless devices involves a number of walk-in passengers, intruders, and well-intended corporate spies hired by your competitors. As a mobile enterprise it is only natural that during many instances you would be accessing internet while on the go- in the public transportation, restaurants, business centres and public parks. So, you need multiple gates for multiphase verification process. Merely authenticating a user will not suffice, you also need to customize authorization according to their roles and decide their accountability. While it is not an easy task even more challenging is to building such a process on your smartphones and ensuring that it works in an intended manner without adding hassles to the communication. Using other techniques for preventing intrusion like 2-factor authorization and firewalls is equally recommendable but admittedly challenging.
Physical Security While a major focus is on ensuring the digital security throughout various data processes like transferring, communicating, receiving and using the data, another oft-ignored challenge lies in the form of physical security of the devices that are used for communication, transmitting and achieving the crucial data. In fact, even the multifaceted, multiphase security fails to protect your data once you misplace your mobile device. Annually a huge number of devices are misplaced while commuting, in the public places and in offices. Along with the obvious threat of losing crucial exclusive data it also poses a bigger threat of allowing hackers, corporate spies and other unauthorized users to steal or misuse your data that your device contains. Worse still, it can also allow the more sophisticated thieves to “steal your authority” to control your resources or clients for their own benefit.
Challenges that restrict the security measures and possible solutions
Due to the increasing number of global clients, heightened competition and lack of client’s loyalty many companies have given an unofficial permission to their staff for liberal communication with clients- anytime, anywhere and on any device! It is especially true in the case of outsourcing companies that have to respect their offshore clients’ native time without compromising on the prompt response. So, the employees may need to respond to the clients’ communication even during unofficial hours. Restricting them to use only official device in such instances is neither recommendable nor practical.
Though these threats look daunting for CEOs as well as key personnel like CTOs and IT officers, the challenges are not without solutions. It only requires ne to change their perspective, define/design a complete set of guidelines and ensure the proper compliance. Understandably it will take some time for the entire organization and personnel to make them familiar with the new technology but within a reasonable period of time the things will be streamlined. All that is needed is practice and compliance.
The operating system of mobile devices requires sophisticated Antivirus software. While finding such software is rare, determining the authenticity and capability of such software is a challenge. Though rare, the viruses targeting mobile OS can have intense capabilities. As the cure is rare, the prevention is paramount here. You need to educate your staff to use their devices responsibly during business communication- avoiding random/irrelevant/unfamiliar websites, completely avoiding downloading any unauthorized resources through any medium or device and using the best security configuration of their mobiles during business communication.
While the basic encryption of your carrier network is capable of ensuring an average level of security, you need to use the enterprise specific encryptions for managing the more sensitive security environment while communicating with your clients, colleagues or subordinates. Understandably the malicious elements have their eyes on such passages because of their potential value. Whether you need to share files, crucial business figures or vital enterprise information, it is always recommendable t rely on best VPN strategies to ensure their exclusive availability only to the intended and authorized users. There are a number of reputed and sophisticated mobile VPN connections like SSL that have the required capability to protect your data.
Authenticating specific users to receive or send the business data can go a long way in preventing unintended data leakage, intended misuse of such data or intrusion of malicious elements. But you need to go a mile farther and ensure that adequate authorization rights. Check if your mobile OS needs firewall security. Obtaining the same and enabling it can fortify the sensitive precincts of your security environment with powerful boundaries that are inaccessible for most of the malware and viruses.
When you lose your mobile device containing sensitive business data, the entire enterprise can be at a risk. However, if such devices are protected by authentication/encryption then the risk is largely mitigated. Besides, there are a number of tools to wipe the sensitive data remotely. But it is still important to consider the good old warnings- write your IMEI number and disable the SIM as soon as you realize that the phone has been lost. But you need more specific before-theft and after-theft safety measures. Setting a passcode and configuring your phone to delete entire data on specific number of unsuccessful attempts are the best ways to ensure safety f your data even when your phone is lost. Many phones provide a number of effective options to mitigate the threats associated with losing your phone. Find my phone enables you to find the precise location of your lost phone, remove the credit card from pay facility shields your bank account security and wipe your data will foil the malicious attempts by deleting the data.
One f the major factors t keep in mind is to tie the data so that you can use it anytime you need. The real empowerment of mobile enterprise is not limited to realize the unrestricted connectivity while commuting through new York streets, but to realize the same connectivity even while walking through the rural African regions to explore commercial possibilities in oil rich regions or while meeting with local artisans in rural India to realize the commercial potential offered by handicraft industry of India.
While the word mobile has been used many times in the articles compared to the word carrier, it is the latter that holds the key importance for you. You need to devote your attention and time for discussing the specific security concerns with your carrier at length depending upon the nature of your enterprise, complexity of your business and daily operations of your organization that involve communication of sensitive data. The carriers are proactively determined to offer the enhanced and personalized security to their corporate clients in order to enjoy the cutting edge over their competitors. Besides, they are equipped with required knowledge, technologies and manpower to recommend and offer the adequate technical configuration/environment for ensuring enhanced security for mobile enterprises. They can offer anti-spam technologies and the value added services for enduring that they corporate clients should enjoy maximum bandwidth and enhanced security,
However, ensuring higher capabilities, smoother communication and failsafe security is a joint venture between you and your carrier services. So, the very first step towards finalizing the security of your sensitive data and communication is to identify the major risks associated with business communication, arrange a meeting between your enterprise’s IT department and your carrier to define the best configuration, guidelines and practices to assure intact data security and take adequate steps for implementing the same in your organization n a streamlined manner