Mobile Workers: Are Your Documents Secure?

By Adi Ruppin, Vice President of Business Development, WatchDox — November 16, 2011

Let’s face it; to stay competitive in today’s market, businesses have to be able to do business from anywhere at any time. Mobile devices like iPads, smartphones and "good old" notebooks make it easier to stay connected, but can also leave a company’s sensitive information more vulnerable. 
 
As seen in recent news, serious data leaks can cripple any company, big or small. Just ask Bank of America whose stock price fell three percent following the mere threat of data leakage onto Wikileaks. So how can you better protect your information when sharing documents via mobile devices? 
 
The first step is to recognize that there is a threat. Most data breaches can be attributed to one of the following: 
  • Human error – Most leaks are simply accidental and occur 83 percent more often than intentional leaks. For example, an employee can include the wrong recipient on an email or attach the wrong document by mistake
  • Sharing information with an outside party – Sharing documents with a third party, such as partners, customers or investors, means that internal security measures no longer apply
  • Being hacked – It is hard to accept, but all IT infrastructures are at risk for break-ins. This means companies of all sizes should be prepared for document theft in the case of a security breach
  • Employee sabotage – If current or former employees holding a grudge have access to sensitive information, they can easily load it onto a flash drive and share it anywhere without the proper protection
  • Lost or stolen mobile devices – If an employee loses their smartphone, tablet or laptop that is used for business, all saved or accessible documents are at risk
If your company employs a mobile device management (MDM) solution, you might think your documents are protected from such leaks, but most MDM solutions offer limited or no functionality when it comes to protecting documents residing on mobile devices. 
 
Such solutions may be able to remotely wipe a device, but require the device to be managed by the enterprise in order to do so. Additionally, these solutions do not encrypt documents to prevent their removal from the device. 
 
To be sure that business conducted via tablets, smartphones and laptops on your company’s behalf doesn’t end up in the wrong hands, there are a few additional steps you can take: 
  1. Be sure you have the power to destroy documents at any time. The data that lives on laptops, tablets and smartphones is often mission-critical and vast. When such a device is stolen, the potential damage to the business that owns that information is staggering. You can’t prevent every theft, but you can give yourself the ability to wipe these tools clean if they are stolen
  2. Keep track of documents, including who prints, copies and shares them. This will allow you to track disgruntled employees who separate from the company and try to carry information with him, or lets you know if information leaks come from insiders. Tracking documents will also allow for secure collaboration with external partners
  3. Finally, make sure you have solutions in place that secure both personal and work devices. Employees will inevitably use their personal devices to conduct business simply due to convenience, not to mention the many occasions where information is stored on external partners’ devices. But, this also means that the enterprise has no control over the device. Tools and systems must be put in place to ensure that confidential documents stored on any mobile devices are properly secured and can still be controlled, tracked and destroyed if needed
There is no question that mobile devices advance business by allowing owners, executives and employees to work remotely while staying connected. But as today’s mobile workforce grows, businesses need to consider security solutions that allow information to be shared freely, while keeping their intellectual property safe.

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