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The Confident SMB

Securing & Protecting Mobile Devices – SMBchat Recap

Created: 16 May 2012 • Updated: 16 May 2012 • 1 comment
Chris Halcon's picture
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Lost or stolen devices and mobile malware are significant concerns for small businesses. Symantec’s recent Smartphone Honey Stick Project found that there is a very high likelihood attempts to access both sensitive personal- and business-related information will be made if a lost and unprotected smartphone is found by a stranger.

On May 2nd, two Symantec security experts joined Anita Campbell, editor-in-chief at Small Business Trends, in a Twitter chat to shed some light on how to secure and protect mobile devices and the business data accessed and stored on them.

The #SMBchat generated some lively discussion and included some useful stats and tips for SMBs. In case you missed the chat, we’ve included some of the questions and answers from our experts: Andrew Singer, who Tweeted from @SymantecEMM, Kevin Haley @kphaley, and Anita Campbell @smallbiztrends.

Every year we hear “it’s the year of mobile.” How many SMBs actually use mobile devices in business?

  • “95 percent of mobile workers now have smartphones, up from 85 percent in 2010 (2011 iPass Report)” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)
  • “Not only are people using mobile for work, but it’s all mixed up with their personal stuff #SMBchat” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)

What are the top uses of mobile devices by small businesses?

  • “Symantec research shows email as top use for SMBs and 54% use line-of-business applications on mobile devices” – Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)
  • “A line of business application, for example, is a financial reporting tool or a real estate listings application” – Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)

What is the biggest security issue when it comes to small-business mobile usage?

  • “96% of lost phones had the data accessed in our study. Even those returned.” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)
  • “Lost or stolen, once out of the user’s hands a phone must be considered breached.” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)
  • “315 new mobile vulnerabilities found in 2011. 90% increase. Opportunity for bad guys is there.” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)

Which presents the bigger security risk to a company; a mobile device or a PC? Why?

  • “Malware for mobile is less common than malware targeting PCs. However we’re seeing more Trojanized apps.” – Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)
  • “Mobile devices are easier to lose and when discovered, curiosity can lead to violation of personal privacy:” – Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)

In terms of mobile risk, what are the main consequences (losses)?

  • “This one blows my mind: SMBs averaged $126,000 of loss in the past year due to mobile computing issues” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)

Which is more likely: having your mobile device hacked into or losing it and someone accessing private info?

  • “Both are risks. Only 50% of smartphone finders contacted the owner in our smartphone experiment” — Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)
  • “This stat is important, 18% of all targeted attacks are directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees.” – Andrew Singer (@SymantecEMM)
  • “Not everyone can hack a phone. Everyone has the skills to steal one.” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)

What can small businesses do today to reduce risk in mobile computing?

  • “Save yourself a lot of grief: Only use app marketplaces hosted by well-known and legitimate vendors” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)
  • “And this will sound familiar: Keep security software up-to-date; encrypt data going to and from the device” – Kevin Haley (@KPHaley)

Here are some comments and insights from others who participated in the chat:

  • “Protect mobile devices with Android Lock passwords and use Apps that can wipe a phone/tablet clean if lost or stolen” – @VernessaTaylor RT @jbrath
  • “We have the tech now to secure mobile data, so let’s leverage these tools to the max! #CoIT  >>> I agree there” – @AdrienneSmith40  RT @Nukona_Walt
  • “Locally stored data isn’t as dangerous as opening portal to data in cloud. Must be just as careful w mobile as PC” – @Walter Paley
  • “@Lyceum @SymantecEMM Martin sometimes it's tough to avoid open networks while traveling. But I don't do financial tasks....” – Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)
  • “@Lyceum @SymantecEMM I also try not to do anything that involves transmitting a password giving access to what is sensitive.” – Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends)

Thank you to all who participated and made this #SMBchat a success! Share any other insights and comments you have below. We hope to see you at our next Twitter chat event!

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John Cooperfield's picture

Thanks! My team also deals with email and smartphones, so I will share from this and about the HoneyStick Project.

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