Do Smartphones Threaten the Security of your Business? Of Your Life?

by Matt Klassen on September 16, 2010

Perhaps you remember a time not so long ago when computers were in their infancy and words like ‘security,’ ‘hackers,’ and ‘web access’ were foreign to the tech vocabulary; a time when even I, a relatively technologically illiterate child, could crack games and hack computer files. Fast forward to today, a time when computers have become an inexorable part of our existence, helping run both our corporate and private lives. But why do you feel safe trusting a computer with your business data today? Because it’s safe…at least relatively speaking.

But as technology continues its torrid advance into our lives, the way we communicate, do business, and manage our lives all continues to change, and sometimes security protocols aren’t quick enough to keep up.

Take the smartphone for instance, the little mobile PC that you have sitting there right beside you. In this day and age that device is quickly replacing the PC as people’s go-to device to the connect to the Web, with more and more companies utilizing them as standard equipment for their employees and more and more people putting every detail of their personal lives onto such devices. But the problem is simple, smartphones aren’t safe.

AsPatrick Sweeney of TechNewsWorld notes, the threat towards the security of your business from a smartphone is substantial. First, smartphones, unlike PCs, are hard to manage. It used to be that companies could install firewalls, passwords, and other security protections that would easily delineate access to sensitive material, but managing smartphones in the same way is no easy task.

The problem is, simply stated, that smartphones are easier to use than PCs; easier to use to access the Web, easier to use to share information—whether private or corporate—and thus easier to screw things up with. Its difficult, if not impossible, to track what employees are doing with their smartphone, and that, for corporations the world over, is a problem as who knows if someone has leaked sensitive data accidentally or on purpose, or if some thoughtless peon has left his iPhone prototype in a local bar.

Further, seeing that people use their smartphones for more than just business, it often means that people are simply too lazy to keep their devices secured. More and more smartphones are becoming mobile banking, identification, and business centers, and like losing your wallet, it really sucks when that phone is lost, misplaced, or falls into the wrong hands.

But as with most things in life, a little common sense goes a long way. To prevent security breaches that may threaten your corporate or personal well-being simply utilize the security measures already put in place. On a personal level, use passwords and other security features on your phone. On a business level, make sure your IT department has remote access to all corporate phones, has firm smartphone policies in place, and teaches the value of mobile security awareness. It’s really just that simple.

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