The best mobile security practices for enterprise organizations

By Jonathan Crowl

As various types of technology are increasingly integrated into enterprise business practices, cybersecurity challenges become more complex. Mobile security, in particular, has become a focal point as mobile devices become an essential part of communications, sales tools, marketing and consumer engagement. Each new piece of the mobile cybersecurity puzzle will add potential points of compromise, forcing enterprises to invest even more into their mobile security efforts.

Today’s mobile cybersecurity strategies are extremely complex and arduous — and, all too often, they’re also incomplete. As IT departments work to keep up with the pace of tech innovations, it’s inevitable that certain security considerations will be overlooked. Large companies must do their best to eliminate as many potential data vulnerabilities as possible, and that means taking a top-down approach: Focusing on the most urgent needs, and working down until every last crack is sealed.

Here are four pressing mobile security measures that should be a top priority:

Keeping valuable data off devices

Mobile devices, especially smartphones, are the most frequently lost and breached pieces of a company’s infrastructure. Advances in data storage technology have huge implications for how easily other parties can access that information. The simple prescription: Keep all core data off of employees’ phones. Any data that does find its way to a smartphone should be assumed compromised or lost, since devices themselves are horribly unreliable for data storage and the risk of a breach is high.

If enterprises do choose to store certain data on phones, such as company credit cards, extra measures should be put in place to monitor and improve their security, such as data-wiping tools and protocols. In general, though, this practice should be avoided whenever possible.

Choosing vendors and partners with robust security features

Third-party partners and vendors are inevitable in a mobile ecosystem — enterprises have to use these relationships to put the best product forward and leverage mobile opportunities. But any such merging of internal data with external parties increases the risk of a data breach. Enterprises should make mobile cybersecurity a major part of their vetting process, putting potential partners under the microscope to examine the risks of such a partnership. Even if one vendor offers a great product, any security vulnerabilities should push you to think twice about such a partnership.

Implementing layered security measures

A single line of security isn’t enough to protect mobile assets. Think of how banks construct multiple layers of security to protect their assets: locked doors, security alarms, video cameras, a bank safe, sometimes even security personnel. Similar measures should be taken in a mobile environment, according to Credit.com. These measures include two-factor authentication, user access restrictions, password management and individual user accounts for all mobile devices. Enterprises must tightly control who has access to what data, and increased hurdles to a security breach will minimize the risk of compromised data.

Educating your employees

Training employees is of the utmost importance. Mobile security features are far less effective when device users don’t understand the rationale for that security or how their actions could create potential compromises. For example, employees should be thoroughly trained on a company’s BYOD policies before receiving company access to mobile properties through their own smartphones and tablets. Any and all protocols for compromised data and other security breaches should be clearly outlined so employees know how to handle an emergency situation.

Employees will be much more effective at preserving mobile security when they understand the implications of their actions, even seemingly benign ones. In the end, employee behavior is always one of the most likely causes of compromised data, so effective trainings will go a long way toward mitigating those risks.

The rules of optimal mobile security will always be changing, and likely growing more complex in the process. Even as IT works to implement these changes, they should also keep an eye out for new innovations, wrinkles and risks that affect your company’s mobile environment.