What do mobile security and holiday lights have in common?

By Jonathan Crowl

| Healthcare

Anyone who has ever strung up holiday lights is familiar with the experience of plugging them in only to discover that half the string won’t light up. That’s because these lights are wired so that the current travels through each individual bulb. When one light goes out, it breaks the connection through the rest of the string, causing every light down the line from the broken bulb to stay dark until the dead bulb is replaced.

Holiday lights serve as a reliable analogy for how mobile security is delivered across an enterprise environment, although the technology involved is far more complex. It also illustrates how quickly a single security breach can spawn a chain reaction that brings down most of the network with it. Most breaches start small, but wind up being a big problem: research has found that the average cost of a single data breach is $3.6 million for each company.

Just like every light must be in working order for the string to function correctly, every device and employee must protect the enterprise network. Mobile security involves several critical components that must work well together to provide effective security with no vulnerabilities. Here are four pillars of mobile security to keep all the lights on:

1. Upgrading the enterprise network

Enterprises continue to add new devices to their mobile environments. A growing workforce brings in new smartphones, tablets and computers, while web-connected devices such as printers and digital signs can increase the network’s data use, putting a strain on existing infrastructure.

At some point, every enterprise will need to consider upgrading their current hardware, such as investing in solutions that increase the wireless local area network (WLAN) to provide better data transfer speeds and more reliable service. Upgrading this network will increase bandwidth, improving performance and reducing downtime. And don’t forget to integrate cloud-based solutions into your enterprise network, which can alleviate some of the stress placed on local networks while improving enterprise network availability to remote workers.

2. Mobile device management

Want to take a preventative role in protecting your lights from an untimely outage? Mobile device management (MDM) solutions provide this and more, so enterprises can be more proactive in securing their network. With MDM solutions, IT can reliably monitor for OS updates across a range of employee-owned devices, activate and monitor security features and perform essential services including device tracking, remote wiping and other remote device management tasks if they are lost, stolen or otherwise misused or compromised.

When everything is going smoothly, companies can guard against potential problems by conducting regular audits of devices and security components. Through these audits, vulnerabilities can be identified and fixed before the proverbial fuse is blown.

3. Effective, up-to-date employee training

Employees are the most common cause of security breaches that can bring an entire network offline. Routine training isn’t a groundbreaking mobile security strategy, but it remains a pillar of effective network protection. As Security Magazine points out, training over time is important as cybersecurity threats evolve.

Employees should be trained about the importance of installing software updates, app updates and software patches, as well as given guidelines to avoid downloading mobile apps that haven’t been approved as safe by IT. The use of an enterprise app store can be useful in deterring app downloads that compromise device security.

With phishing attacks so prevalent in 2017, employees should be trained to identify potential phishing emails and how to report possible threats to IT.

4. A protocol for every situation

It’s impossible to prevent every security vulnerability or to know exactly what can possibly happen to an enterprise mobile network. However, companies can prepare by developing an in-depth mobile device policy handbook that establishes protocols on handling any situation, large or small.

When problems do arise, minimal response times are critical to mitigating damage and the related security costs that stem from a breach. Employees and IT can easily be caught like deer in headlights if they’re faced with a problem and aren’t sure what to do. A thorough mobile policy handbook takes the guesswork out of this process, providing clear steps they can take to start the organization’s response and minimize the impact of any irregularity.

One small outage may seem insignificant, but it’s all about the ripple effect created by that one small change, just like when a single holiday light goes out. Do your company a favor and take every opportunity to prevent a similar chain reaction in your enterprise mobility.