5 Tips for preventing data breaches caused by lost or stolen devices

September 1st, 2020

The rapid adoption of mobile technologies has seen a raft of new cybersecurity challenges as attack surfaces expand exponentially and companies struggle to keep pace with the risks. Yet mobility remains a top priority in today’s technology-driven economy, in which employees often use their own devices for work. While we can’t deny the benefits of mobility, it’s essential that businesses do everything they can to prevent them from being misappropriated by criminals.

Easily the biggest risk with smartphones, laptops, and other portable devices comes from the very fact that they’re portable. But the increased risk of loss or theft is just the beginning. Many devices are inadequately secured in the first place. Some users don’t even have a PIN code to protect their smartphones, even though they might use them for email, banking, and accessing other sensitive information.

To protect your mobile devices and mitigate the risk of data breaches, we’ve compiled five simple security habits you should practice right away.

1. Avoid storing sensitive data on mobile devices

The data stored on portable devices is often far more valuable than the device itself. Common blunders include leaving laptops containing highly sensitive information on public transport or another place where anyone can get their hands on them.

An easy way to prevent data breaches via mobile devices is to avoid storing sensitive data on them in the first place. Instead, it’s much safer to use those devices like thin clients to access cloud-hosted apps and data. If data must be stored locally, it should be encrypted.

2. Always use multifactor authentication for access

Even if a mobile device doesn’t store any sensitive data or that data is encrypted, chances are it’s being used to access online accounts. For example, many people routinely use phones for internet banking.

The safest approach is to encrypt the entire device and lock down access to sensitive data or apps used to access it behind two verification methods. Simply entering a PIN to access online banking, for example, isn’t nearly enough to protect the account.

3. Only use secure communication channels

Convenience usually comes with a security tradeoff, which is something mobile users should always be aware of. For example, connecting via unsecured public wireless networks carries a high risk of sensitive data being compromised in transit.

Mobile workers should only be allowed to connect to corporate resources via an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN). This will encrypt all traffic, thus securing home and public networks.


4. Be careful when disposing of retired devices

Many people change their phones every couple of years and rarely give a second thought to the proper disposal of the old ones. However, even if they restore the device to factory defaults or format a hard drive, there’s no guarantee the original data will be deleted.

Every business should have a secure IT asset disposal (SITAD) program in place to sanitize retired hardware assets. For employee-owned devices, it’s essential that your company’s bring your own device policy includes a robust exit strategy that ensures any company-owned data is properly deleted.

5. Train your employees regularly in cybersecurity

Almost all cyberattacks involve a human element, even though it’s usually technology that gets the blame if something goes wrong. For example, you can hardly blame leaving an unlocked phone on a train on the device itself!

Protecting your organization against data breaches starts and ends with your employees. The right blend of technology and policy will make it much easier for them, as well as help protect your systems from hackers, but there’s no substitute for regular security awareness training.

Cutting Edge Network Technologies will make sure your network is protected around the clock through a combination of industry-leading expertise and the latest cybersecurity solutions. Call today to schedule your first consultation free.

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