For Small Businesses, Smartphone Security Is As Important As PC Security

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Although there aren’t any prevalent security attacks or threat mechanisms associated with smartphones in the market today, security vendors and analysts are urging mobile device users to use security best practices on them, just as they would with their computers.

With recent advancements around mobile devices and technologies, particularly smartphone devices, more and more people are staying connected both in the home and office environments.

Analysts at Forrester Research, a leading authority on security in the small business IT space, say the new breed of smartphones, such as Android and iPhone-based devices, are built on operating systems that are “fairly-well locked down.”

However, although they said using these types of devices are generally safer than PCs because malware can’t run on them (yet), there are still privacy and data risks to be aware of.

GPS hacking is just one concern – a rogue phone application sending your location to an outside service without your permission.

Privacy-related issues will emerge as third-party “fake” applications access more of your personal data.

These would be apps that look legitimate, but are designed to steal your personal information.

Fixing this type of issue will be simpler than a PC, though: The operators of the “app stores,” (Apple and Google) can find the offenders and remove them from the sites in a matter of minutes.

Security and privacy are a concern especially for users who bring and work with their personal devices in and out of the workplace.

The safety of the data on those devices becomes an even larger issue.

Smartphones allow business owners and employees to be more connected with each other. Users are sending information via e-mails and through attachments, all of which are susceptible to loss or theft.

Smartphones that are used for business communication should be treated like office PCs when it comes to data protection. The security threat is there – you have to protect the data that’s on the device.

One of the biggest security mistakes customers make with their mobile devices today is that they fail to use even the most basic security protection methods such as passwords.

Most users don’t set up passwords on their mobile device because they think of their smartphone as just a phone.

But really, it’s a small, low-power computer that happens to let you make phone calls, too.

For small business, it’s time to start thinking of smartphones as another entry into your business’ data. If they’re used for business communication, they need to be monitored, protected and updated just like a PC on your network that attaches to your server and financial data.