The panic associated with getting out of a taxicab, reaching for your phone, and realizing it’s now somewhere 40 blocks away and gone forever is right up there with waking up in a moving car with a semi-truck coming at you.
Life, as you know it, is over.
Now multiply that panic by about 1 billion when that phone also contains your entire business, complete with passwords, financial records, client lists and everything else. And even if YOU’RE a stickler for phone security, the employees you trust with company phones may not be. So, here are 10 tips to keep your and your employees’ phones safe.
- Avoid Shady Apps - Downloading apps not from the app store is the tech equivalent of buying speakers off the back of a truck. Except those speakers won’t record your financial passwords and empty out your bank accounts. So, actually, shady apps are a lot worse.
- Update Update Update - Mobile apps don’t create updates just so you can use up your data plan and your provider can charge for overage. A big reason they do it is to close security holes and make the apps harder to hack. So always update; the more current you are, the safer you are.
- Adopt a data wipe policy - The inevitability of having an employee (or, possibly, you) lose a company phone is up there with a rainstorm hitting right after you wash your car. So before handing out said phones, get yourself a mobile security app that will allow you to remotely wipe everything off a phone as soon as it’s missing.
- Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’re not using them - There are people, believe it or not, that create unsecured Wi-Fi networks just so your phone will automatically join them, you’ll hopefully do something stupid like buy a pair of shoes while it’s connected, and they’ll get all your info. Same goes for Bluetooth connections. So as soon as you’re done using your phone from a trusted source, turn it off and never opt to connect automatically.
- Don’t shop online with phones - Tempting as it might be for your employees to kill time waiting for a meeting by picking out your new office printer (ok, let’s be honest, new shoes) transmitting any kind of financial information via mobile device is asking to get it lifted.
- Vary your passwords - You learned in 6th grade computer class not to use your birthday as a password. And while that one you created with letters, numbers AND characters is pretty darned genius, if anyone is able to lift it from one account, you can bet it’s the first thing they’ll try for everything else.
- Always log out - Remember that time you forgot to log of Facebook on your friend’s computer and the next time you went to open your page you had 8 statuses in a row that said “I like dressing up in Tutus and dancing to Abba?” Mild aggravation compared to an employee forgetting to log out of your corporate bank account and losing his phone.
- Don’t take them overseas - To hear the FBI tell it, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have your identity stolen and be robbed of everything you own if you use a mobile phones overseas. Seriously. Read their advisories. And while the world might not be the giant identity theft ring the feds make it out to be, phone privacy overseas isn’t always what it is here. So if need be, get a separate phone for international use.
- Don’t jailbreak your phone - Though we all like telecomm companies about as much as we like a screaming baby on a hot airplane, resist the temptation to buy an “unlocked” phone to save a few bucks. A lot of security features are tied into the code signing and software sandboxing, and ridding your phone of those seriously compromises security.
- Don’t save financial passwords - You know when you get that popup that says “Remember this Password?” Click no if it’s a site that involves money. Period. The 10 seconds it might take to enter it every time is a lot less than the time it’ll take to unravel identity theft.
Image courtesy of bplanet / FreeDigitalPhotos.net