It's said that the average smart phone user checks his or her smart phone about 34 times per day. In reality, I reckon my teenage children check their smart phones about 334 times per day! Sending emails, speaking to customers, conducting web research and connecting to required corporate databases and business applications has become an essential component of both our business and personal lives. These days, smart phones are used to do all of the above.
In essence, smart phones and tablets have become the new laptops - they're smaller, more convenient and more accessible to the majority of the world's population.
These powerful, life-changing devices are a source of constant amazement to me - I love technology. However, beneath the benefits of efficiency and productivity offered by smart phones lurks an ever-present, underlying risk that shouldn't be ignored. I read a comment regarding military training recently that went something along these lines: "If the enemy target is in range, then be aware that you're also within range of the enemy." This same principle can be applied to our connected devices.
If you're able to connect with the world, it's possible that your device is a target for hackers, viruses and malware attacks.
Hopefully your business has strict IT policies in place; you block the corporate network's access to productivity-killing sites like Facebook and you have an effective antivirus software solution in place. While this is a great start, it doesn't necessarily ensure that your business is completely protected. The issue is that corporate policies and solutions often only apply to desktop and laptop computers on the corporate network or domain. In today's world of mobility and working remotely, BYOD setups (bring your own device) and smart devices, you need to ensure that your business is protected even when personnel are accessing data on the corporate network from home.
Every time employees access the corporate network on their smart phones from home, your business is potentially exposed to infiltration and the risk of data corruption and industrial espionage.
Don't stop at only protecting your corporate network and computing devices with antivirus software - you need to protect all connected mobile devices, too. Viruses, malware and phishing expeditions are embedded in emails. If company emails are being read on employees' personal smart phones and tablets, those devices need to be protected with antivirus software.
If you don't think that the risk of email-borne phishing software and malware warrants the use of antivirus software, have a look at our recent blog about email scams here. Bear in mind that whilst not every bit of malware can affect mobile devices, infected emails and attached documents can be sent from mobile devices to other users or just as easily be saved onto the corporate network.
Equally importantly, devices containing company information are frequently lost or stolen.
The global statistics relating to mobile devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops) being lost (left at airports, forgotten in taxis and so on) or stolen are absolutely staggering. The last thing your business needs is an unsecured mobile device falling into the wrong hands and exposing corporate data and network access.
Modern, cloud-based, end point protection solutions often include mobile device support.
Mobile device support enables you to use antivirus software to protect roving devices that are not always connected to the corporate domain but still have access to corporate data sources. Perhaps more importantly, cloud-based, end point protection solutions include functionality that allows authorised company personnel to track a device location - usually using Google Maps - as well as the ability to instantly clean stolen or irretrievable devices of all information, thus negating the threat of exposing corporate information to the world at large.