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Using mobility to better your business

SMEs and mobility: understanding the risks and how to overcome them.

David Ribeiro, Entrepreneur, 14 September 2012  Share  0 comments  Print

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To call mobility the latest hot business technology trend is probably an understatement. In reality, the gravitation towards using mobile devices, such as smartphone and tablets, represents a transformation of business technology priorities rather than simply a trend.

Current and future generations entering the workforce will wonder how business was ever done without these devices.

This transformation is not only taking place in large enterprises with the capital to invest in cutting edge technologies and IT strategies, but SMEs are also jumping head first into mobility.

Leveraging mobility

A key driver behind SMEs interest in business mobility is the ‘bring your own device’, or BYOD, concept.

Many SMEs do not have the resources to supply employees with the latest mobile technologies, yet they still want to partake of the benefits of an always-connected workforce.

With BYOD, employees use their own personal mobile devices for work. Thus, it’s a win-win, right?

The fact is that as more and more SMEs implement BYOD and leverage mobility in their business strategies, the risks are sometimes overlooked.

After all, SMEs often already have their hands full with managing the demands of their traditional IT infrastructure and endpoints. Add mobility to the mix and often overtaxed IT staffs become spread even thinner.

Following best practice

Not only are the risks surrounding mobility and BYOD sometimes underestimated, but these lapses result in real losses for many SMEs.

Thankfully, there are a few practical steps for employers to consider in order to avoid a headache and to better secure its business critical information.

Here are a few best practices to help SMEs secure their mobile workforce:

Take Stock: Know which employees are using mobile devices to connect to business resources. The fact of the matter is you cannot protect or manage mobile devices you don’t know about.

Secure: After taking stock, ensure that employees are following a few simple guidelines when it comes to their devices if being used for work.

  • Mobile devices connecting to company resources should have mobile security software installed and have their encryption features activated.
  • No ‘jailbroken’ or ‘rooted’ devices allowed! Such devices have security holes that leave them vulnerable to attack.
  • All mobile devices should be password protected, no exceptions.
  • Lost or stolen devices should be immediately reported.
  • Avoid opening unexpected texts messages and emails from unknown senders on business-connected devices. Just like with PCs, malware can infect mobile devices through such messages.
  • Be aware of surroundings when accessing sensitive information. Whether entering passwords or viewing sensitive or confidential data, users should be cautious of who might be looking over their shoulder.
  • Only use app marketplaces hosted by well-known, legitimate vendors for downloading and installing apps. Mobile malware authors often use unregulated, third-party app stores to peddle malware.

Manage: Using mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management tools is a relatively simple step to help SMEs maintain an inventory of the devices connecting to company resources and also ensure employees are adhering to the above policies.

Reputable MDM tools also allow SMEs to make sure mobile devices, both personally-owned and company-owned, are wiped of company information if an employee leaves the company or a device is lost or stolen.

Finding balance

Many SMEs are struggling to find the proper balance between enabling mobility and maintaining a secure IT infrastructure.

These simple steps – taking stock of mobile devices, securing with proper tools and policies and managing through software – are relatively simple ways to strike that balance.

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About the author

David Ribeiro, Entrepreneur

David Ribeiro is a Partner Account Manager at Symantec South Africa. He is responsible for managing the relationship between Symantec South Africa and the managed reseller Channels. During the past years with Symantec, David has been recognized for his dedication and achievements both locally and on a global level. In addition to receiving the Small Business Team of the Year awards for EMEA in 2008, he was also named the Small Business Salesperson of EMEA for FY10.

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