Personal Small Business Enterprise

So Your Smartphone Is MIA…

Losing a mobile phone can put even the most typically composed individual into a state of panic. And when it comes to a phone that’s used even just partially for business, the worry is kicked up a few notches. Can someone access the sensitive business data? Will I lose important e-mails, contacts and calendar appointments? And what financial and productivity losses will the company incur?

In 2012, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) revealed that a total of 263,004 mobile phones were lost or stolen in Canada for the year. In a study conducted last fall by San Francisco-based business security company Lookout, in conjunction with Forrester Research, almost half of U.S-based IT managers reported lost productivity due to mobile security issues (including a phone getting into the wrong hands), and 26% said this resulted in financial loss. In all, a lost or stolen smartphone was reported by 60% of IT managers within the previous year.

To ensure your business is prepared to deal with these types of situations, consider the following preventative steps to minimize the damage as well as important actions to take after said occurrence.

Inform the IT rep ASAP. First and foremost, a lost business phone should be reported to the company’s IT rep right away so they can immediately take the necessary cautionary steps to ensure that the information is secured, content backed up and the device can be retrieved or replaced. If you have a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy in place, be sure to communicate with your employees so they know what the rules are, along with what the company is and is not responsible for.

Back up the device. One of the simplest things you can do on a regular basis to ensure you don’t lose sensitive business data is backing up your data on the device daily to a computer, cloud-based server or both. You might not always be able to prevent the device from ending up in the wrong hands. But at least the data will be safely in your hands and not lost along with the hardware.

Activate the phone’s GPS tracking. Most premium smartphones include features for tracking them if lost or stolen. The Find My iPhone app allows you to pinpoint the Apple device’s general location by logging in through a Mac, iPad or other Apple device. You can prevent it from being used, make it beep continuously, send a message to the device (e.g. Please call me at this number if you found this phone!) and even remotely wipe its contents.

Adopt a secure system for managing company smartphones. Implement a proper IT infrastructure that takes into account ways to back up, protect, lock and retrieve information from remote devices connected to the server. Mobile device management (MDM) solutions are becoming increasingly popular, and most MDM solutions offer enhanced security functionality like data encryption, password protection features and the ability to remotely lock or wipe a device if an employee reports their device as lost or stolen or leaves the company.

Make use of security features in today’s phones. Many of the latest smartphones offer security features specifically for businesses. Samsung’s KNOX software for compatible Galaxy Android devices and BlackBerry Balance for BlackBerry 10 devices both make it easy to switch between personal and business applications while ensuring that all business data is appropriately protected. Some smartphones have physical protective features as well, like the iPhone 5s’s fingerprint reader.

The bottom line
Mobile devices often get lost, but the tips and suggestions detailed above can help businesses ensure that the only cost to the company or employee is that of replacing the hardware.

Do you have an appropriate security system in place? Do your employees know what steps to take if they lose their phones? Let us know in the comments section below.

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