How to strengthen your weakest security link Featured

7:30pm EDT January 31, 2013
How to strengthen your weakest security link

If you are a C-level business executive, have you ever stopped and given serious thought about how much confidential data is in your email?

If you are like most executives, you have full financial statements in Excel attachments. You’ve got emails surrounding confidential business deals, acquisitions and the like. And you’ve got information in there that would be of great value to a competitor, like client lists or top deals that have closed.

Now stop and think again — where is this data all stored? For 99 percent of us, it exists on our mobile phone, says Zack Schuler, founder and CEO of Cal Net Technology Group.

“It’s on that device that we leave laying around just about anywhere: on our desk, on a table at a restaurant, in our gym bag, in our golf cart, in our car, in our hotel room, by the pool — just about anywhere,” Schuler says.

Smart Business spoke with Schuler about the need to protect company data contained on cellular phones.

What should companies do to protect data on cell phones?

Companies spend thousands of dollars protecting servers with firewalls, locked doors, complex passwords, etc., but how much money or time do they spend protecting the data on cell phones? Probably almost none.

One could even make the argument that if a cell phone was compromised or stolen, a thief would have a much easier job getting to the data that he’s looking for, because it’s all organized nicely in folders. A folder might even be labeled ‘private,’ ‘confidential’ or ‘financial information.’ You get the picture.

So what’s the solution? You need to treat the mobile devices that access your network just like you treat the rest of your network. You need to manage them and manage the security around them. This is why the term ‘mobile device management’ (MDM) has recently come into the spotlight.

What is mobile device management?

It is a centralized system that manages all of the mobile devices that connect to your network. It is a piece of software that is downloaded to a mobile device and then communicates back to the corporate network, letting you do all kinds of nifty security things. First and foremost, it can force any user connecting to your email server to use a password. Sure, you can set a companywide policy that they need to have a password, but lazy people will turn it off. With mobile device management, they can’t turn it off.

How secure is that four-digit pass code anyhow? If I were someone who knew you and wanted to get into your phone, I’d try your birthday, your year of birth, your address, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the year you got married, the last four digits of your phone number, etc. I’d probably have a pretty good chance of being right. With the right MDM solution, you can actually have the software wipe your phone after X number of incorrect password attempts. How cool is that? You also can do things such as limit access to app stores, set Web browser security preferences, restrict use of the camera and more.

What happens if a phone is lost?

You call your IT department or support provider and they wipe your phone, which can be done even without MDM. But what’s even better is that you can go to the Verizon store, get a new phone, and your IT department/provider can send you a text containing a link to download your MDM app. You download the app, and they can provision your email and the rest of your phone — think remote desktop support for your phone.

Regardless of whether your employees have their own devices or if they are company issued, if they connect to your network, they must be secured.

Zack Schuler is founder and CEO of Cal Net Technology Group. Reach him at ZSchuler@CalNetTech.com.

Insights Technology is brought to you by Cal Net Technology Group