Mobile technology is an accepted part of the IT world, both in business and for personal use. Most of us have a tablet or a smartphone, and it’s not uncommon to use our personal devices to have a quick look at our work email or do some other job-related task. The question is, just how safe is mobile computing?
Security concerns for mobile devices are a different ballgame, especially when you compare them against desktop computers. For the moment, malware (viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs) is primarily aimed at laptops and desktop PCs running the ubiquitous Windows operating system, and defending computers against malware is one of the main concerns of IT security.
Mobile devices are much less prone to malware attacks, although they do happen. One reason for this is that the popular Android operating system uses a technology known as sandboxing to restrict the files that individual apps can access, effectively limiting a virus’ scope. However, this doesn’t mean that smartphones and tablets are home free; they can still be hacked, loaded with useless apps, have their information hijacked, or be rendered completely unusable by some nefarious third party. But that’s not the biggest problem in mobile security.
The biggest problem in mobile security is also its biggest asset: its mobility. Smartphones and tablets are easy to lose and easy to steal, particularly when compared with a desktop system. The greatest danger to mobile security is often unwary users.
How to Keep Mobile Devices Secure at Work
How can you keep your mobile devices secure, especially if you’re using them for work? If you’re the boss, you can institute a BYOD (bring your own device) policy. The beauty of having your own policy is that you can implement safeguards that your employees might not have, like remote device management, strong passwords, and mandatory firewalls and antivirus programs. (You can also beef up your network security to protect against mobile users unwittingly importing malware into your system, but that’s another topic altogether.)
If you’re not the boss, what should you know before you bring your personal mobile device to work?
With mobile computing just starting to take over Internet traffic, the security threats are likely to continue to evolve. For the moment, you’re more likely to have trouble with a stolen identity or a scam text message than you are with a traditional malware-based attack on your mobile device. Using these cautions, a common-sense approach can help you use your tablet at work without raising a security problem.