Get treats, not tricks: Mobile protection tips to avoid spooky security threats

By Jonathan Crowl

An illustrated hand pointing at a mobile device screen with a skull and crossbones on it

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that National Cyber Security Awareness Month lines up perfectly with the Halloween season. Or maybe that’s exactly what its creators had in mind, hoping to scare employees and businesses into better mobile protection habits.

Whatever the case, the Halloween season is an ideal time to audit your mobile security efforts and identify areas where you can enhance your enterprise security front. By taking an active role in shoring up your enterprise security before an attack strikes, you can enjoy the treats of mobile security without succumbing to the tricks of digital threats. Here are some tips to guide this process:

Ask employees to update their devices and software

Worldwide spending on IT security is estimated to hit a record-high $86.4 billion by the end of 2017. Though the spending for this increased security points in several directions, a principal analyst notes, “doing the basics right has never been more important.”

Download Gartner report on managed mobility services

Unfortunately, employee error creates the vast majority of enterprise security breaches. Sometimes it stems from the poor judgment to click a questionable email link. In other cases, it can be a failure to update a device’s operating system or a reluctance to update apps and install software patches. These errors can leave solutions and devices exposed to security threats. Businesses should press their employees to keep up-to-date on software versions, patches and other updates. This simple maintenance can stop numerous security attacks throughout the calendar year.

Keep remote devices off of public wifi

Maybe it’s a stretch to say public wifi is haunted. Then again, hidden threats could be lurking over any public network, and it only takes one encounter to compromise a device, an employee and an entire company. With that in mind, you should always avoid public wifi when you’re using a device for work purposes. The ideal form of online connection is a virtual private network (VPN) set up by an enterprise, which creates a secured connection when workers are out of the office.

If you need internet access and a VPN isn’t an option, a more secure alternative to public wifi is to turn your phone’s Bluetooth service into a personal hotspot for other devices. Public wifi is a last resort — and even then, it’s probably not worth the risk.

Keep your data treats locked away

Any device user is likely giving away data without realizing what he or she is doing. Permissions controls on mobile applications, automatic connections to networks and location-sharing are the most common ways cybercriminals can steal data.

Even if you have an enterprise mobility management solution in place to mitigate the threats this sharing creates, correcting employee behaviors should always be a priority, since many security solutions are unable to provide comprehensive, unconditional protection at all times. Set devices up to stop automatically connecting to networks, even familiar ones, other than the secured enterprise network available at the office.

Meanwhile, revise app permissions and guidelines to restrict the sharing of data from devices. Enterprises might also want to consider encryption for company emails, providing an additional layer of protection to communications containing sensitive data.


Back up your data on a regular basis

Ransomware is a fast-growing threat enterprises can’t ignore. Mobile ransomware attacks became 3.5 times more common in the first few months of 2017, and there are no signs this trend is about to slow down. The damages for companies can run into the millions if they choose to pay the ransom, or else they risk losing their data altogether. In some cases, businesses have paid the fine and still had their data destroyed.

The good news is you can largely avoid the damages of ransomware if you regularly back up your enterprise data. Just as it’s wise to keep a spare supply of candy for when extra trick-or-treaters come to your door, you can save yourself from serious business damages by backing up your files and keeping these backups in remote storage. Establish a company policy for how often you should do this, and run an awareness campaign to make sure everyone is on the same page.

It’s easy for business leaders to feel like they’re constantly being haunted by mobile protection concerns and hidden security threats. However, just like garlic for vampires, the right combination of mobile security can keep these threats at bay and guide you through the Halloween season with no reason to be scared.