Using Mobile Business Devices and Proper Management

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The rapid integration of mobile devices into the business world promises several benefits. Many business owners now operate with little to no office overhead. The mobile office makes it possible to handle customer service, place service orders, oversee teams in the field, and upload invoices directly to tax preparation software. Even if you still need the office, you can save time and labor expenses with the help of a Smart phone, PDA, and personal laptop.

A new set of risks, however, comes along with the benefits. Previous safeguards against information loss and theft must be transferred to mobile devices. Businesses controlled information by setting user privileges on the network, limiting employee access to devices, and following protocols such as HIPPA and SOX. Addressing information security is more important than ever. Old protocols still apply, but you should address the following areas to ensure relevance.

Management Initiative

The Business Performance Management Forum conducted a study which found that half of companies lack formal compliance and security policies regarding mobile devices. IT employees are generally the first to notice deficiencies, but management routinely downplays concerns until after a security breach. Despite the potential costs of a breach, almost half of company respondents said only a breach would prompt extending network compliance to mobile devices.

Roger Coleman is a business consultant and blogger who offers information on how to send large PDF files, collaborate on projects, and use cloud services

The first step to gaining management’s attention is surprisingly easy. It begins with making a detailed inventory of all the devices carrying sensitive information. This should not be done alone or by a single department. Attorneys and compliance officers can strengthen the case for management initiative.

Legal Approach

Small businesses have several easy options, such as remote format apps and GPS locators. They also manage comparatively fewer devices and less information. Medium to large businesses face far more serious repercussions after a security breach. Randolph Kahn of Kahn Consulting advises establishing compliance rules for the business in direct response to the federal sentencing guidelines used by judges in corporate cases.

Education

The first step in managing information is to educate employees on existing procedures. There will be mistakes when transferring these procedures to mobile devices. The mistakes are unlikely to be as bad when employees already have a firm grasp of the company’s compliance policies.

The next level of education is formal training in the application of compliance policies to mobile devices. It isn’t necessary for every employee to understand federal sentencing guidelines, but examples will extend their confidence and knowledge. Ultimately, every company needs to incorporate mobile security into the formal compliance policy.

Back Door Security

Remote formatting software was mentioned previously. This is one important step to prevent security breaches due to lost or stolen devices. Several other software solutions are well-suited to the task. Establishing network controls for every device and enabling access via password are usually more acceptable to a reluctant management than company-wide training. Device-specific apps are capable of removing information, shutting down inactive devices, and locating lost devices.

The communications revolution presents serious threats to information security. Clients rely on their vendors and service providers to keep the information safe. Security for mobile devices should begin with management, but this often requires the time and effort of concerned employees.

Roger Coleman is a business consultant and blogger who offers information on how to send large PDF files, collaborate on projects, and use cloud services

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