May 25, 2016
How To Get Smart About Your Mobile Security Practices

When the first IBM Simon smartphone debuted about 20 years ago, according to Business Insider, only a few could have imagined how indispensable these devices would become in our daily lives. Many now rely on smartphones for much more than making a simple phone call, listening to a voicemail and sending text messages. Smartphones now store a range of private information. Having all this important data at hand 24/7 may seem to make managing daily life more efficient; however, the accessibility of this private information can also put smartphone users and their employers at risk. If that confidential data lands in the wrong hands, it could risk the company’s future.

Considering all the apps downloaded to our phones and the regular software updates that can alter settings, smartphones can be difficult to secure. CEOs whose employees use smartphones for enterprise daily business needs, may want to make mobile security practices a key priority to ensure that information remains protected.

Properly securing data could save you and your company from various security threats. These could involve leaked client or customer information, identity theft, spreading of viruses or spam through your company’s network, or stolen bank account information that could put you and your company in financial danger. According to PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey 2015, 87 percent of US chief executives are worried that cyber threats could impact growth prospects.

Considering your mobile security practices, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Do I really need two phones?

Some CEOs have taken the “separation of church and state” approach to technology, opting to have two phones: one for personal use and another strictly for business. Some may opt for this tactic in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance and keep their personal matters from getting intertwined with their business.

Also, when a device that has been issued by the company is lost or stolen, the company could use remote access to wipe it clean of any potential company information stored inside, which means that personal information like photos, texts and notes may be lost as well. Having two phones avoids this possibility.

However, the ability to store private or sensitive information, whether personal or business-related, is more convenient and secure when using a single device. Additionally, having one device is more convenient to carry and less likely to be misplaced than multiple devices. It’s difficult enough keeping daily track of various devices when most people already have a laptop, smartphone, tablet and smart watch—so is a second phone really necessary? For most, having two phones is not an adequate solution.

2. What additional measures can I take to improve my mobile security?

If having two phones sounds like one device too many to keep track of, then consider investing in an app or in data separation software-based technologies, that are specifically designed to isolate and secure private information on your device. As we rely more on our smartphones and continue to use them to store private documents, ensuring that this sensitive information is encrypted and secure becomes crucial.

The commercially available BYOD software sensitive data security management solutions are all demanding heavy processing workloads on the phone processor and the internal memory, and are still susceptible to sophisticated hackers’ intrusion, as they are all purely software-based solutions.

3. How can I ensure my password is secure?

To ensure passwords remain secure, the best advice is the simplest: do not share them with others. In reality, people share their passwords for all kinds of reasons. Sharing passwords with others then gives them access to all of the public and private information stored on the device. Tech Radar surveyed professionals in the UK and US and found 19 percent estimated their employees were sharing passwords. This practice may seem harmless, but if just one person among that 19 percent has access to sensitive information, it could pose a great security risk. Safe passwords need to contain a combination of at least 10 non-ordered characters and numbers, to avoid fast password cracking by available generator apps.

An additional measure to improve password security is to avoid using the same password across multiple devices. No matter how secure a particular password may be, it can still potentially be accessed by someone who has intercepted one of your devices, which could give them access to every one of your accounts that use that password. Rather than recycling passwords across accounts, try to come up with a unique password for each one. The security needs to remember/manage and use several passwords are too demanding for many data users; therefore there is a growing need for biometric substitute solutions.

4. Should passwords be replaced by user’s biometric authentication?

Biometric authentication is one of the most exciting and recently more implemented technical improvements for legitimate user authentication and for serving as a device use entry barrier. The most widely used method of biometric authentication, instead or in addition to passwords, is fingerprint recognition. Many of the last-generation mobile phones are equipped with a fingerprint sensor that is being used as a screening device for legitimate use of the smartphone only by its legitimate authenticated user.

5. What are the potential new trends?

In the near future, while implementing the means for more innovative advanced data management safety precautions, individuals may be able to better use and protect their mobile devices against security breaches and to improve privacy. POMM™ (Privacy On My Mind) is a smartphone add-on electronic protective case that incorporates an array of security and improved privacy features. It contains an advanced, biometrically-secured authentication entry barrier and an encrypted, isolated and secured data depository. This add-on case—always attached to the personal smartphone—protects and stores any private information, such as: gallery, contacts, secured dials, notes, passwords, calendar, emails, documents and more. Executives should then not have any fear of confidential company information or personal content getting into the wrong hands, if their device is ever lost, stolen or hacked. A technology like the POMM is designed to ensure it will not.

David Freidenberg
David Freidenberg works in the information technology and services sector and is currently the CEO of POMM.