Nine Tips To Keep Mobile Devices Safe

The reality is, mobile devices are less safe than desktop computers. Boosting security on such devices is essential if you use them in business.

Information on your team members’ mobile devices is no longer limited to just phone numbers and contacts. They now contain much more significant data, such as emails, passwords, and other account details.

That’s why keeping those mobile devices secure is key to shielding your reputation and minimizing the risk of losing money.

Fortunately, you can implement robust safety measures to protect your smartphones and tablets. This article will cover the nine best practices in improving cybersecurity on mobile devices.

Establish a sound security policy

Before issuing tablets or smartphones to your teams, create an effective usage policy. Define rules about acceptable use and determine the penalties for violating them.

Your employees must be aware of the security risks and measures that can help them reduce the risks. They should know that they are the first line of defense against cybercrime.

Ensure the operating system is up to date

Updating Android and iOS operating systems improve overall user experience, but their most significant role is in addressing security vulnerabilities.

Therefore, install updates as soon as the developer rolls them out to reduce exposure to cybersecurity threats.

Enable password protection

A complex password or PIN can help prevent cybercriminals from accessing mobile devices. Besides using alphanumeric combinations, you can also use facial or fingerprint recognition, depending on what suits your employees.

If you opt for digits and letters, don’t share the combination with people outside your company. On top of that, be sure that your staff doesn’t store them on their phones. Unmarked folders and physical wallets are a much safer option.

Only install business apps

Lenient download policies can allow your team members to install non-business apps. Downloading such apps might seem harmless, but they are also infamous for their harmful advertising codes and many other threats.

To mitigate this risk, tell your employees they can only download and use apps necessary for their roles.

Avoid public Wi-Fi

Your team may need to use public Wi-Fi networks in emergencies to send crucial emails or schedule a meeting. However, connecting to such networks can expose confidential company information to cybercriminals using the same network.

The easiest way to minimize this risk is to provide a high-quality Internet plan that features roaming services for your remote workers.

Leverage phone tracking

Losing company-issued mobile devices is unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the world.

Enabling Android Phone Tracker, Find My Phone on iOS, or other device-tracking software can help locate your lost smartphones. Some programs also enable you to remove data on your stolen devices remotely.

Installing these apps takes a couple of minutes and gives you much-needed peace of mind. With it, even if your staff loses their mobile device, cybercriminals are less likely to get their hands on the content.

Use mobile device management (MDM)

For even more security, you may want to integrate with a reliable MDM. It’s an excellent way to separate personal and business information while allowing your team members to set up robust security measures on their devices.

In most cases, cloud-based software is the most affordable, flexible, and manageable type of MDM. Many platforms let you check out device information, update and manage apps, configure your devices, create restrictions, and remove content remotely.

Screen messages

Cybercriminals frequently employ SMS phishing to trick your team into clicking dangerous links. They pose as someone credible, asking your staff to share confidential information.

If your employees encounter such messages, they should delete them or alert the IT department. Another great idea is to avoid opening the SMS and block the sender.

Practice blocking and whitelisting

Many threats can compromise your company due to employee errors. For example, a team member may not realize they’re downloading a malicious app that allows thieves to steal data from their mobile devices. Blocking and whitelisting can enable you to protect your employees from these risks by determining which sites and apps are safe.

Mobile Efficiency: Laptop Versus Tablet

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

We are an increasingly mobile society. Whether for work or personal, you’d be hard-pressed to find too many people without an Internet-connected device somewhere nearby. Smart phones are everywhere and basic Internet usage is at your fingertips.

When you need to work on the go or work while actually moving, there are device options that can help you really increase your productivity.

There are obviously many factors that can come into play when talking about meeting your mobile and professional needs.

What kind of tasks do you need to perform? What sort of software do you need access to? Are you going to be switching between applications and run multiple tasks at once? How frequently and how far are you moving?

I know, so many questions! So where can we even begin?

Just like any other job in the world, having the right tools can make things so much easier. If you work at a restaurant as a server for instance, using a laptop is very impractical. Carrying it around typing orders on a keyboard would prove to be difficult, just as writing a novel on a tablet touchscreen keyboard would be. These are some clear-cut scenarios, but most of us fall somewhere in the middle.

So let’s talk about some of those questions.

What kind of tasks do you need to run? If you are just replying to email, stick to your smart phone. That is where you’ll end up anyway.

For everyone else? What kind of programs and applications are you using? The first thing you should check, if you don’t already know, is if there are mobile versions of the programs you use. Some programs may not be user friendly on a touchscreen if you use the standard version.

Use your smartphone to see if these applications are user friendly in a new setting. The app may not perform as well as it would on a tablet, but maybe you can decide if it’s something you can work with. If the programs are available and you are comfortable using them with a touchscreen interface, you may be ready to use a tablet for work.

When it comes to laptops specifically, the first thing I would consider is how much you’ll be moving around. If you travel from place to place, but typically sit to work at different locations, a laptop is always going to be an option.

The difference is the limitations of the device. A laptop has more capability when compared to a tablet. After all, it is a computer.

If you are switching between many programs and applications frequently and use multiple programs at one time, then a laptop will have more capable processing power to allow you to work unbothered by slow system response time.

The best summary I can give is, if you move around while working, get a tablet. If you sit, just in different locations, you’ll be happier with a laptop.

If you can’t find yourself leaning one way or another, the third option would be a Surface type of machine. With the processing power and speed of a laptop but the mobility of a tablet, you will spend more money for the ultimate solution in mobile versatility and efficiency, but won’t feel the constraints of either other option.

It’s all about you and how you want to get your work done.

Is Antivirus Necessary For Smartphones?

July_2015_CellPhone_email_sizeChances are, you have an antivirus program installed on your personal computer. You may not, however, have the same sort of protection for your smartphone.

If you don’t, you’re certainly not alone. Being part of a majority, however, doesn’t make the data on your smartphone safe. The same threats that lurk in cyber land can attack your phone as easily as a personal computer, but there isn’t a lot of attention being given in the media and other venues about viruses on smartphones.

So, despite that lack of attention, should you install antivirus protection on your smartphones and tablets?

The truth is that you should. Smartphones are fast becoming the prime method of accessing the Internet, and the amount and nature of sensitive data on these devices puts you, your business, and even others whom you hold dear at risk.

Since many viruses are designed to gain access to personal information on devices, the risks are greater than you may think. We may not think about installing antivirus applications on our smartphones because it doesn’t address a widespread problem at this time.

In the near future, however, viral attacks on phones is inevitable. From an employer’s standpoint, the need to protect smartphones is even more important than on a personal level. With more and more business being conducted via handheld devices, a virus on a smartphone has the potential to interrupt operations, causing costly delays and compromising sensitive company data.

Security software applications that can protect smartphones are available for download. Look for one that is not just vigilant against malware, however.

It should also provide an option to remotely wipe smartphones clean in the case of a viral attack to protect company data as well as have a GPS location feature to facilitate easy recovery.

Another feature experts recommend in a security software application is the ability to limit the types of applications employees download onto their company-provided smartphones.

Security Tips To Keep Your Mobile Phone Secure

We’ve all seen the stories about celebrities getting their mobile phones hacked and having their private photos splattered all over the web.

Although you may think there is nothing of real interest on your phone, you are still at risk of security invasion. Any number of people could have motive to do so from exes to a colleague who perceives you as a threat, and even innocuous content on your phone can be taken out of context to reflect negatively on you in general.

Use some of these simple tips to protect your mobile phone and reputation:

Your passwords are your primary defense against would-be hackers – from your lock code to email account password. Don’t share your passwords with others. Also, make sure your passwords aren’t easily guessed, such as your pet’s name or child’s birthday.

A secure password may not be as easily remembered, but it is far harder to hack. Finally, shield your phone’s screen when entering passwords in public lest onlookers take note of which buttons you push.

Clear Out the Cobwebs
In addition to creating more storage space on your mobile phone, it is just wise to remove old text conversations, photos, and other data periodically.

Back up the things you want to keep onto other devices, so you can access them later. With all of the excess stuff you don’t use on a regular basis gone, you leave less for hackers to work with if the security of your mobile phone is breached. In the event of being hacked, you would also likely lose all of those things, so backing such info up protects you twofold.

Beef Up Security
Take advantage of the lesser-known security features of your mobile phone. For example, turn off the Discoverable mode on your Bluetooth.

Look on your phone under Security to see if there are already included options, such as an automatic lock screen that activates after a certain period of inactivity.

There are also applications you can download to increase the level of security on your phone, including apps that allow you to access and control your phone remotely in the case of loss or theft.

Risks When Employees Use Their Own Mobile Devices

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is an exciting development for increasingly mobile and interconnected employees, but also a new challenge for IT security teams.

Gone are the days where security professionals can lock down a finite set of machines and facilities; instead, they must manage an ever-growing, ever-changing landscape of employees, devices and applications, many of which have access to information that needs to be protected.

According to an article on eWeek, a survey was done on organizations with mobile devices connecting to their networks: only 33 percent have any official BYOD policy governing the use of personal portable devices, 67 percent do not.

The security risks are inherent in BYOD between viruses, hacking, improper security, and more. Flat-out thefts of smartphones, laptops, and tablets are also an issue.

In New York City alone, police data show that Apple products were stolen in a total of 11,447 incidents in the first nine months of 2012. That is an increase of 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Of course, employee education and awareness are important as informed users are more likely to act responsibly and take fewer risks with company data. Unfortunately, employees can be careless and criminals crafty, which is why network security defenses and policies are so critical.

Although implementing a restrictive device policy may feel like the most secure approach for your company, it can easily backfire.

Your craftiest employees are going to find a way to connect their devices to your network no matter what. And employees who do obey your “no iPhones” message will probably resent the policy and experience lower productivity.

Bring Your Own Device conceptToday’s workers expect to have 24/7 access to their information. They want to be able to catch up on emails on the evening train ride home or access information while away from the office.

BYOD lets IT staffs eliminate the hassle and expense of provisioning, distributing, and maintaining hundreds of corporate-owned mobile devices.

But setting up a BYOD program isn’t without its challenges. For starters, when you give employees free rein to bring in their own devices, you put your corporate documents and data at the mercy of the native security on these devices.

When you consider that many of your employees probably have “1234” as the PIN on their iPhones, that’s a pretty sobering thought.

Another major concern is your network. When you allow today’s increasingly powerful smartphones and tablets to request resources from your network, you really put your infrastructure to the test.

Are you ready to serve data instantly to hundreds of increasingly powerful hand-held mobile devices?

What if your mobile employees want to watch training videos, play back webinars, or listen to conference call recordings on their devices – can you deliver this kind of bandwidth?

Like most things, there are upsides and downsides, but a decision should be made on what best suits you, your employees, and your business.

When it comes down to it, BYOD isn’t a completely ridiculous idea. In fact, the benefits of BYOD may be worth the extra security precautions required to implement it.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Mobile Device Management Is Key In Securing Your Network

by Jeremy Miller, Technician
Mobile devices have been finding their way into the workplace since the cell phone was invented. Since the evolution of mobile devices in the workplace is rapidly growing and changing it can be hard to make sure that your device is not leaking company information intentionally or even unintentionally.

Information Technology (IT) has had to evolve alongside mobile technology and how to secure devices without restricting too much access.

There are usually two options of allowing mobile devices in the workplace. You can provide your employees with a company owned device or you can allow them to use their personal device.

Providing your employees with a company owned device allows you to monitor every detail about the phone including calls, messages, installed apps and location of the device. This is possible because the employee can expect no privacy from the company on this device.

When you allow an employee to use their own device at work you have to take their personal privacy in consideration. You might not want to monitor their phone calls, messages and apps installed.

Instead you can make the device more secure. You can install monitoring software that will allow you to lock the device if it gets lost, wipe the device if you know it may have fallen into the wrong hands, or find the device by using GPS location.

We have the ability to install our monitoring software onto any Android or iOS device and choose a profile that will suit a personally owned device, a company owned device or we can even customize a plan that will suit your needs even more specifically.

Since mobile devices are prone to getting lost or stolen they need to be protected in the best way that you can. In most cases installing monitoring software is the best solution.

This is because we can monitor the phone without interfering with the device usage. Once the device is compromised we can act quickly to get the device secured.

On the other hand if you notice an employee is acting suspiciously you can monitor their phone usage to determine if they are wasting time or acting maliciously against the company and take action before something more serious happens.

The best part about managing your mobile devices through Tech Experts, is that we are very competitive with other personal phone security managers out there in both price and features.

Our prices are very affordable and services can be easily customized to meet your needs.

It takes just about as long as installing an app to your phone as it does to setup our management software on any mobile device running Android or iOS.

You will be able to rest assured that your mobile devices are virtually safe from data loss, your employees are using their resources and time accordingly, and in the event of an issue we will be there to assist you in any way we can.

If you are interested in trying out our mobile device management service please contact us and we will be happy to help you with any questions.

Staying Connected When You Travel

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

Summertime is vacation time for a lot of business owners, and keeping in touch with the office can be a challenge while you’re on the road. Here are some tips to stay in touch and connected – but only if you want to!

Cellular and mobile broadband
The single biggest change in mobile technology is the ubiquity of relatively high speed data service. Coverage has increased significantly, and speeds rival that of low-end landline connections.

Phones themselves have evolved – many are now small, powerful computers that are constantly connected to the Internet.

Tethering is the act of connecting your phone to your computer so the computer can use the phone’s Internet connection. Sometimes inaccurately described as a “modem” in these situations, the phone simply acts as a gateway connecting your PC to the mobile data network.

Not all phones or providers support tethering. When available, it usually uses a USB cable to connect the computer to the mobile phone.

An option that’s becoming more popular recently is the ability of some phones to act as a Wifi hotspot. When enabled, the phone itself becomes a Wifi access point, and laptops and other Wifi-enabled devices can connect to the Internet just as they would via any other hotspot.

Cellular Hardware
If you don’t have a phone capable of sharing its Internet connection, another option are devices dedicated to providing Internet connectivity to your computer.

Many mobile providers offer USB devices that act as dedicated interfaces to the Internet using the mobile network.

Drawbacks of mobile broadband
There are two primary drawbacks to mobile broadband: Coverage, speed and cost. While decent voice service is nearly universal in all but the most remote locations in the US, good data coverage is a gamble.

It isn’t uncommon for one carrier to have “four bars” of coverage in an area, and another to have barely any, so if you travel much, particularly to more rural or remote areas, coverage matters. You can easily try out different carriers by purchasing “reloadable” service on that carrier – if the service doesn’t work, simply cancel without penalty.

Cost is another limiting factor to mobile connectivity. Most smartphones include some kind of base connectivity charge in their monthly fee, adding $20, $30, or more per month to the basic cost of the phone.

Free Wifi hotspots
At the other end of the cost spectrum are the networks of free open Wifi hotspots that you can find across the country.

Be it Starbucks, McDonald’s, local coffee houses, restaurants, bookstores, and more, many retail businesses provide Wifi as perk of doing business with them.

If your travels take you along routes populated with these types of establishments, you can travel from one to the other, taking advantage of their connectivity as you go. While technically free, the assumption is that you’re a customer – so at least buy a cup of coffee.

The drawbacks here include security and possibly speed. Depending on how heavily used the location is, your speed of access may depend on how many other users you’re sharing the connection with.

Mobile Devices: BYOD Deserves Special Consideration

by Jeremy Miller,Technician
A good majority of people now bring a device of their own to work and many even use their own device at work. There are many reasons that this could be good or bad or down right terrible.

There are always inherent risks when employers allow employees to use a personal device at work especially if the device attaches to the network or has confidential data stored on the device.

Allowing employees to bring their own device can be very beneficial to your organization.

If you choose to allow devices you must understand the risk and create rules that keep the device from being used maliciously.

It is best practice to create an Acceptable Use Policy for Devices. This will cover a variety of things including:
• Proper use during and after-hours.
• What types of apps are allowed to be installed?
• Which type of data will the device be allowed to use.
• How to prevent abuse.

A good AUP will allow a business to allow users to bring in their own devices and use them to increase their productivity without letting the employees abuse the privilege of being allowed to use a personal device at work.

Allowing employees to bring their own device can: increase productivity at a low-cost to the business, make employees happier, and allow users to be reached at any time.

Allowing employees to bring in their own device can be bad as well. The first reason is employees’ abuse devices all the time.

In every workplace there are employees that will use their devices in a matter that is not related to work such as checking Facebook or texting when it is not necessary.

Then there are employees that will want to use their device at work and at home, but will not want to follow the Companies Acceptable Use Policy.

This is not only disobedience but risky, because many of the stipulations in the AUP are to protect the Company’s business flow. Allowing employees to bring in a device that connects to email will sometimes require an IT person to help get the email to sync with the device.

If you do not have onsite IT this can cost you money every time there is an issue with the email not syncing. The ugly part of allowing users to bring their own device is the lack of control and security.

With the lack of standardization each device is at least a little different. On top of that each app installed is a potential risk, especially the free apps that include advertising.

Risks emerge every day, this means that in order to be sure that the device is secure you will have to continuously assess the risk for each device in use.

There is always a risk that your employees could fall victim to social engineering.This is when they either knowingly or unknowingly give away confidential information to a party that is not allowed this information.

This can be mitigated by educating users on a continuous basis, a good way to do this is a lunch and learn style of meeting. All employees with a personal device being used for work should be restricted to which applications they are allowed to download.

This is because each app has its own code and permissions that are required to run it. If the permissions for the application can compromise any data at any point it should be reviewed and then allowed or disallowed.

In conclusion many companies already allow the use of a personal device for work. Trying to implement a plan after allowing the devices is much trickier because you are further limiting a user on their own device.

A plan is absolutely necessary to protect you from legal implications, and to be up front and informative of the consequences for breaking any rules outlined in the Acceptable Use Policy for Devices.

Letting your employees know what is expected will reduce the legal and liability risk that a company may face.

Alert: Top Four Threats Attacking Your Network

There are many threats that could be attacking your network. Here are just a few that most clients have happen to them.

User overconfidence in security products is the top threat to your network.

Failure to “practice safe software” results in nuisance attacks like porn storms (unstoppable rapid fire pornographic pop-ups) and more subtle key loggers that steal passwords.

Surveys promising free stuff result in theft of information like your mother’s maiden name, high school, etc. which can be used to answer common security questions.

To avoid theft of otherwise secure data, think before you click.

Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites like Facebook are exploding in popularity. Threats range from malware (eg. viruses, worms, spyware) to scammers trying to steal your identity, information and money. Many businesses and government agencies are using these sites to communicate with clients and constituents, so simply blocking access is no longer reasonable; defending your company while allowing employee access requires social network education for your employees and the enforcement of strong acceptable use policies.

We can help you develop a policy, then monitor compliance using a Unified Threat Management device that controls and reports on network access.

Attacks On Mobile Devices
Everyone is going mobile these days, not just the “road warriors.”

Once limited to laptop computers, mobile network devices now include PDAs, handheld computers and smart phones, with new appliances appearing in the stores every month. Mobile devices often contain sensitive data yet they are easily lost or stolen.

Be sure to password protect and encrypt data on all mobile devices whenever possible. Include mobile devices in your acceptable use policy.

Cloud Computing
“The Cloud,” in its simplest form, involves using the Internet to access and store your data.

It’s actually thousands of servers all working together to provide computing power. When you access e-mail using a web browser, you are working in “the cloud.” Using the cloud for automated off-site backup is rapidly gaining popularity, but that’s just the beginning.

Companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Google envision the day when we will use inexpensive terminals instead of computers to run programs and access data located somewhere on the Internet.

You need to be sure that any data you store and access across the Internet is secure not just where it is stored, but during the trip to and from the Internet.

Pay close attention to this top threats and it will help with network security.