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Engineering LibreTexts

1.6K: Mobile Secuirty

  • Page ID
    11504
  • Sidebar: Mobile Security

    As the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets proliferates, organizations must be ready to address the unique security concerns that the use of these devices bring. One of the first questions an organization must consider is whether to allow mobile devices in the workplace at all. Many employees already have these devices, so the question becomes: Should we allow employees to bring their own devices and use them as part of their employment activities? Or should we provide the devices to our employees? Creating a BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) policy allows employees to integrate themselves more fully into their job and can bring higher employee satisfaction and productivity. In many cases, it may be virtually impossible to prevent employees from having their own smartphones or iPads in the workplace. If the organization provides the devices to its employees, it gains more control over use of the devices, but it also exposes itself to the possibility of an administrative (and costly) mess.

    Mobile devices can pose many unique security challenges to an organization. Probably one of the biggest concerns is theft of intellectual property. For an employee with malicious intent, it would be a very simple process to connect a mobile device either to a computer via the USB port, or wirelessly to the corporate network, and download confidential data. It would also be easy to secretly take a high-quality picture using a built-in camera.

    When an employee does have permission to access and save company data on his or her device, a different security threat emerges: that device now becomes a target for thieves. Theft of mobile devices (in this case, including laptops) is one of the primary methods that data thieves use.

    So what can be done to secure mobile devices? It will start with a good policy regarding their use. According to a 2013 SANS study, organizations should consider developing a mobile device policy that addresses the following issues: use of the camera, use of voice recording, application purchases, encryption at rest, Wi-Fi autoconnect settings, bluetooth settings, VPN use, password settings, lost or stolen device reporting, and backup. [3]

    Besides policies, there are several different tools that an organization can use to mitigate some of these risks. For example, if a device is stolen or lost, geolocation software can help the organization find it. In some cases, it may even make sense to install remote data-removal software, which will remove data from a device if it becomes a security risk.