Mobile Security 101: An Executive Guide to Mobile Security

Critical enterprise information is leaking onto mobile devices whose risk of loss or theft is much higher than it is for PCs at the office.

Mobile Security

Laptops have become so inexpensive that they’re standard equipment at many enterprises. BlackBerrys are all the rage among travelling execs. Mobile phones and PDAs are merging into smart phones that allow mobile e-mail, Internet and even corporate network access, as well as the ability in some models to work on spreadsheets. Copying company data onto USB thumb drives and other removable media has never been easier. Critical enterprise information is leaking onto mobile devices whose risk of loss or theft is much higher than it is for PCs at the office.

The risk is not theoretical. According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 56 potential breaches of clients’ personal information involving laptops and other mobile devices — typically stolen or lost — have been disclosed publicly from Jan. 1 to Oct. 24, 2006, involving the personal information of at least 31.68 million people. And that doesn’t count breaches of corporate data not covered by various state breach-disclosure laws.

Fortunately, security methods aren’t theoretical, either. There are concrete steps an enterprise can take to secure the data on its mobile devices.

Where do I start when securing mobile devices?

The best way to secure company data is not to store it on client devices in the first place, advises Eric Maiwald, a senior analyst at the Burton Group research firm. If data resides on servers and within the data centre, with access permitted only over the network, there is no local copy to lose if a laptop or PDA is stolen or lost. This strategy also protects PCs in the office; after all, they can be stolen as well. While it can be more convenient for an employee to work from a local copy of data — on a laptop transported home or on a thumb drive — the high availability of broadband access and the maturity of remote-access technologies, such as laptops and smart phones, is rarely much less convenient. This approach also provides better security while still letting people work in multiple locations and with multiple devices.

Unfortunately, many companies have issued laptops as the standard PC, a strategy that undercuts security. Only employees who need to work while travelling should be issued laptops; examples include senior executives, salespeople, auditors, field technicians, some marketing staff and telecommuters. The rest can use PCs or computers at home or at satellite offices.

Enterprises that limit the use of mobile devices and discourage the use of locally stored data will still find exceptions that require local data storage on mobile devices, but these exceptions will be few and their small numbers will make them easier to manage.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonenotebookspdalaptop securitymobilityexec series 101mobile securitysecurty

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?