The mobile workforce is here to stay. If you would like your employees to be happier in their jobs, and more willing to stay your company long-term, look no further. Mobility shows to lead a 23% increase in productivity, and it is shown to generate job-satisfaction.
However, as you may well know, the mobile workforce inherently poses a challenge for IT departments all-over. Your devices and data are no longer in a single secure location. So let’s dive into how you can navigate these increased security-needs to protect your mobile workforce.
The importance of physical security
You’ve probably thought hard about data security throughout your office. But have you considered the physical safety of devices as part of that security plan? It happens all too often that security control doesn’t extend to the devices themselves– both while they’re in the office and when they’re on the go with your employees. Consider these important statistics:
- 52% of stolen workplace devices are taken from the office
- 80% of the cost associated with a lost device is not from the device itself, but from losing the data contained on the device
- Laptops alone are stolen approximately every 53 seconds–and that’s just the reported thefts.
A lack of physical security in devices on the move can be incredibly damaging to your business as a whole. It is why setting the right security measures in place in and around your office is so essential to your ability to protect your data and your devices.
Know your devices
It’s estimated that by 2022, 70% of software interactions will not take place on a computer but a smartphone. So it’s well worth looking into the security possibilities and threats intrinsic to these devices. Whether you implement a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy at work or provide devices for your employees, make sure to control how each device interacts with the software your company uses. Also, regularly evaluate the security in place and update accordingly.
Control user access
Of course, when considering physical security, there’s only one place to start: controlling user access. Anything from multi-factor authentication to smart card access and smart USB protection helps to make sure that, even when a device is lost or stolen, your data can remain safe. If you succeed in making devices harder to hack into, for example, with Lenovo’s biometric fingerprint recognition, you can protect the vital data on your colleague’s machines when they fall into the wrong hands. Controlling who can access your devices is one of the most critical measures you can take to keep confidential data as secure as possible on your floating devices.
The keys to virtual security
You probably need to enable flexibility and interconnectivity for the mobile workforce in your organisation, while also keeping your data secure. That can be quite a challenge–but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can design security protocols that protect that vital information. As well as if your employees were logging in from the office.
Consider virtual desktops
Virtual desktops allow employees to log in from any device at any time, but they also help protect vital company data that you don’t want to leak. If login-information is required to access a virtual desktop, it’s less likely that a stolen device automatically leads to a data breach.
Opt for data encryption
Data encryption encodes your data in a form that can be read only by those who have the key. It helps ensure that, even if your machines end up in the wrong hands, people have a much harder time accessing the data that’s most sensitive.
Backup your data online
It’s a given that the more you back up your data, the easier it is to access lost information in the event a device is lost or stolen. But the way you do so can significantly impact the quality of your security. When only a single device contains the necessary information, it’s all too easy for that information to disappear. Wiped drives, stolen or lost devices can all cause critical data to vanish.
With online backups, the cost of lost data decreases significantly. Ideally, you’d like to backup your data every time the device can log online. Transforming the information users can access in the event of a stolen device for the better.
Classify data based on security risk
Some data doesn’t need to be accessible at all times, especially when the information is too sensitive to lose. Map your data on a grid, showing how much of a security risk it is, and set restrictions on its accessibility accordingly. Knowing which pieces of data need to be held safe helps you design more effective security protocols.
Know your anti-theft and loss prevention options
Although it’s an open door: don’t forget to put in place anti-theft options. Set-up alerts that notify you immediately when a device looks like it has been stolen and ensure that you can wipe it remotely, to help protect confidential data.
How people shape your decisions
After all of the above, after you’ve carefully set up your security plan, you might still run into some of your colleagues who systematically find a way around your protocols. A strong security policy protects your data and your devices, but it is only effective if your mobile workforce implements those policies. So don’t forget to anticipate how people use and interact with your security plan.
Train employees properly
Many of your colleagues may struggle with understanding the importance of your security measures. Or they might lack the technical knowledge that helps protect your company. By making security training an essential part of your onboarding process as well as an annual addition to employee training, you can increase the security of the whole company.
Design the right security policies
Using floating devices securely should be very easy. If you’re making employees jump through too many authentications or make them log-in to an unfriendly remote desktop, it won’t take long before they start trying to find ways around it.
With increasing mobility, it’s more difficult for you to keep an eye on precisely what they’re doing and as a result, you may not be able to track whether employees are following those protocols. By designing realistic security protocols–and ensuring that your employees know what you expect of them and why–you can improve the odds that they follow your protocols.
Check your software policies
We all know applications can open back doors and leave vulnerabilities where you least expect them. Make sure of two things: first, that your mobile workforce only downloads software that comes from trusted providers; and second, that you are regularly installing updates to help protect your data.
Institute policies about how to handle lost or stolen devices
No employee wants to admit that they’ve misplaced a company device or had it stolen, but if a device is no longer under their control, it needs to be dealt with quickly! You need a policy that covers all the details, including:
- When an employee should report the loss of a device, including how long it is acceptable to wait before informing the company.
- Who is responsible for taking information about device theft or loss.
- Who is responsible for taking action when a device is lost or stolen.
- What actions need to be taken as a result of a lost or stolen device, for example, changing passwords or access for an employee, or blocking access to the network from the device.
Ideally, you want to have a reliable security protocol in place for both physical and virtual security long before your business adopts workforce mobility. By putting the right security protocols and measures in place, you can facilitate your mobile workforce while keeping your organisation and its data protected.