Tips for Keeping Corporate Data Secure on Private Devices

Tips for Keeping Corporate Data Secure on Private Devices
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Tips for Keeping Corporate Data Secure on Private DeviceTips for Keeping Corporate Data Secure on Private DeviceThe growth in mobile device use is a clear indication of their value to both consumers and business professionals. When we start to use our personal devices for work, we can run the risk of weakening data protection.

We might store confidential information on tablets or save passwords to enterprise applications on our smartphones. There are a variety of controls available to system managers to mitigate the risk of exposing corporate data on employee owned devices. Here is an overview some you can start using in short order.

Mobile Device Encryption

One of the single most effective ways to protect sensitive data is to encrypt that same data. If the device is lost or stolen, the data on the device will be essentially useless to anyone who does not have a cryptographic key to decrypt it.

In the past, encryption may have been difficult to enforce and tax the computing resources of lightly powered mobile devices. Those constraints are no longer as much of a problem.  Mobile device management applications can enforce encryption policies on devices used for business operations.  This requires registering the employee owned device, but that can typically be done remotely.  Also, mobile devices are now sufficiently advanced to support encryption without significant adverse impact on performance.

There are a variety of apps on the market to selectively encrypt data on mobile devices.  When you evaluate these apps,consider what types of data are encrypted. Are documents encrypted or only messages, such as email and text messages?

Another way to keep confidential data safe is to store it encrypted in the cloud. You would then use a mobile device app to download and decrypt the data.

Remote Device Management

Even if data is encrypted on mobile devices it is important to monitor the status of those devices. A mis-configured device or a stored passkey on a lost device could undermine what you thought was a sound encryption policy.  Mobile device management applications can provide a single point of management for different types of mobile devices.

One of the key features of mobile device management applications is the ability to remotely wipe a lost or stolen device. You would be justified in any hesitation you have about wiping a personal device owned by one of your employees.   Some mobile device management applications offer a selective wipe feature that preserves personal, non-business data while removing sensitive business data.

Dan SulivanDan SulivanDan Sullivan is an author, systems architect, and consultant with over 20 years of IT experience with engagements in systems architecture, enterprise security, advanced analytics and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail, gas and oil production, power generation, life sciences, and education.  Dan has written 16 books and numerous articles and white papers about topics ranging from data warehousing, Cloud Computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration, and text mining.

See here for all of Dan's Tom's IT Pro articles.

(Shutterstock image credits: Secure Tablet, 3D Touchscreen)

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