Security in the Mobile Era

By 2017, the number of smartphone users in the U.S. is expected to surpass 200 million, nearly 65 percent of the population. Negotiating security in the face of an ever-growing implementation of mobile devices presents serious challenges for organizations.

Users need to understand the risks and the steps they can take to minimize risk, particularly as cyber criminals often use employees as the entry point into an organization’s network. Below are some key actions users can take to help minimize the likelihood of a successful cyber attack.

Regularly update your device.
Mobile malware increased 75% in 2014 from 2013, and further increases in malware are expected in 2015, particularly in mobile ransomware. Updated operating systems and security software are critical in protecting against emerging threats.

A shot of a beautiful black businesswoman textingEnable encryption.
Enabling encryption on your smartphone is one of the best ways to safeguard information stored on the device, thwarting unauthorized access.

Use a passcode.
In case your phone ever does fall into the wrong hands, don’t make it easy for someone to access all your important information. Enable strong password protection on your device and include a timeout requiring authentication after a period of inactivity.

Do not use public Wi-Fi.
Do not log into accounts and do not conduct any sensitive transactions, such as shopping or banking, while using public Wi-Fi. Disable the “automatically connect to Wi-Fi” setting on your device.

Install applications from trusted sources.
Last fall, Gartner issued a prediction that more than 75% of mobile applications will fail basic security tests through 2015. When downloading apps, be proactive and make sure that you read the privacy statement, review permissions, check the app reviews and look online to see if any security company has identified the app as malicious.

Install a phone locator/remote erase app.
Misplacing your device doesn’t have to be a catastrophe if it has a locater app. Many such apps allow you to log on to another computer and see on a map exactly where the device is. Remote erase apps allow you to remotely wipe data from your device, helping minimize unauthorized access to your information in the event you cannot locate the device.

Disable unwanted services when not in use.
Bluetooth and Near Field Capabilities (NFC) can provide an easy way for an unauthorized user near by to gain access to your data. Turn these features off when they are not required.

Carefully dispose of mobile devices.
With the constant changes in the smartphone market, many users frequently upgrade to new devices. Make sure you wipe the information from your smartphone before disposal. For information on how to do this, check the website of your mobile provider or the manufacturer.

Note: “Fresh Ideas” are published each week by Countybank and its family of financial service companies. With financial centers in Greenville and Greenwood, Countybank has a team of highly engaged professionals ready to bring a full scope of financial solutions designed to help families and business owners reach their goals.