Jason Ellis, VP EMEA for the channel at security software firm, Symantec, on how smartphone growth is causing security concerns.
When it comes to mobility in businesses, the issue of security should be at the forefront of any IT decision maker.
Gartner recently revealed that global sales of smartphones have increased by 49% in the first quarter of 2010. With more people than ever before using smartphones, the risk of losing company data due to loss or theft of a device is a real worry for any organisation. This is particularly true for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs), which are less likely to have the IT expertise to hand in such situations.
As the global workforce becomes more mobile and security threats more complex, IT managers need security solutions that cover all devices and are easy to deploy and manage. Laptops, desktops and mobile devices can be the last line of defence for many organisations, and for some it may be the only one. Thus the challenges of managing the security of these demands a consistent approach and being able to safeguard employees whether on the road or in the office.
Businesses also need to better protect themselves as employees bring smartphones into work and connect them to internal systems that often have access to financial information, either internal or belonging to their customers.
Whether you are a consumer or a business, running untrusted applications should be avoided. Failure to implement the necessary mobile security measures can not only lead to loss of productivity, intellectual property, and customer or employee data, but also loss of potential revenue opportunities and damage to an organisation’s reputation.
Opportunities for the channel
As we move out of the recession and businesses review their tightened budgets, now is the perfect time for the channel to educate their customers on what it takes to secure mobile devices. This is particularly true for channel organisations that focus on SMEs, on what it takes to secure mobile devices. The channel must help their customers understand what types of threats are out there, and how to prevent them.
The onus is on the channel to highlight that although investment in mobile device security may appear daunting, the return on investment outweighs the risks, as long as the right level of support is provided.
Education is key
Educating businesses is the first step in protecting information from malicious attacks and there are a number of guidelines that the channel can provide to customers in order for them to enjoy the convenience and benefits associated with mobility whilst also preventing information loss.
The channel needs to focus on protecting information, as opposed to just focusing on the devices; instead of solely focusing on the devices, SMEs need to take a step back and look at where their information is being stored and protect those areas accordingly. Encrypting the data on devices is key; the information stored on, or accessible from a company’s mobile devices is an SMEs most important asset.
Encrypting this data is a must. If the device is lost and the SIM card is stolen, the thief will not be able to access the data if the proper encryption technology is loaded on the device.
The channel can help make sure security software is up to date. SMEs must treat mobile devices just like they would their PC, and keep security software up to date. This will protect the device from new variants of malware and viruses that threaten an SMEs critical information.
Enforce strong policies
Also, companies need to develop and enforce strong security policies for using mobile devices; in addition to encryption and security updates, it is important to enforce password management for managers and employees. Maintaining strong passwords will help protect the data stored on the phone if a device is lost or hacked.
The channel can also advise on using caution when enabling Bluetooth connections. A phone’s Bluetooth setting can be on by default, so it will need to be turned off or paired with the device and configured with the headset. If not, the device will look for other Bluetooth-enabled phones to connect to, and could result in malware being loaded on to the device.
By advising customers to seek out means of addressing these areas, the channel can enable businesses to control the risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime and minimise the risk of losing important customer data. This will allow them conduct their day to day business activities while enjoying the increased flexibility and productivity that mobility brings.
Symantec helps consumers and organisations secure and manage their information-driven world. www.symantec.com