Keeping Corporate Data Safe in a Mobile World

The nature of work is changing. Over 60% of employees report working outside the office at least part of the time. And according to a new forecast from International Data Corporation (IDC), the US mobile worker population will grow at a steady rate over the next five years, increasing from 96.2 million in 2015 to 105.4 million mobile workers in 2020. By that date, IDC expects mobile workers to account for nearly ¾ of the total US workforce. Given these statistics, Forbes’ finding that 81% of CEOs see mobile technologies as being strategically important for their enterprises makes perfect sense.

As mobile technologies become increasingly common in the workplace, it is more and more critical for leaders to put a data safety strategy in place and to educate their employees how to keep their data safe.

In light of this change, our pros share four key ways to keep your corporate data safe on mobile PCs. Keep these in mind as you create your IT policies, and you will safeguard that priceless data!

Multi-factor Smart Cards
Multi-factor smart cards create a layered defense that makes it difficult for an unauthorized person to access a computing device. Using this technology, employees’ laptops will not turn on unless you have the card.

The Federal government is among many organizations that have begun using these cards to protect their many mobile employees’ devices. The Smart Card Alliance Access Control Council’s white paper on smart card technology provides several other examples.

Full-Disk Encryption (FDE)
FDE refers to encryption at the hardware level, meaning that data on a hard-drive is automatically converted into a form that can’t be understood by anyone who doesn’t have the key to “undo” the conversion. Without the proper authentication key, the data will be inaccessible, even if the hard drive is removed and placed in another machine. FDE is particularly useful for laptops and other small devices that could be physically lost or stolen.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN enables your organization to cost-effectively and securely leverage the Internet to remotely connect offices and mobile employees to the central company network. VPNs do have some drawbacks – they are not particularly easy for a business to deploy, and the reliability of Internet-based VPNs is not directly under the business’s control. BUT, they do enable mobile employees, telecommuters, and business partners to take advantage of locally accessible high-speed broadband access. Additionally, VPNs provide reduced operational costs compared to any other option as well as a high level of security using advanced encryption and authentication protocols to safeguard data.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Application
MDMs allow IT administrators to manage devices remotely – they can deploy software, enable access to resources, track devices, apply browsing policies, and remotely wipe data from devices. Some companies choose not to invest in MDM software because it can be costly and there are some gaps that MDM software cannot address. We recommend that organizations do a financial analysis of whether a breach would cost more than the total price of an MDM system. In most cases, our clients have found that the benefits of keeping their data safe – both qualitative and quantitative – far outweigh the investment cost.