How to Secure and Protect Mobile Devices

If you missed our Twitter chat on May 2nd on the topic of mobile security and protection … I’ve got good news.  We have a recap below.

The topic was “Mobile Devices: Secure and Protect … Now!” We learned some surprising statistics and were pointed to valuable resources during this chat.  Among them:

During the chat I was joined by two subject matter experts from Symantec, which sponsored the chat.


Kevin Haley
Director, Symantec Security Response
Twitter: @kphaley

Andrew Singer
Director, Symantec Product Marketing
Twitter: @SymantecEMM


Here are the questions I posed, and selected discussion around each question.

Q1: Every year we hear “it’s the year of mobile.” How many SMBs actually use mobile devices in business? #SMBchat

95 percent of mobile workers now have smartphones, up from 85 percent in 2010 (2011 iPass Report) – @KPHaley

Not only are people using mobile for work, but it’s all mixed up with their personal stuff #SMBchat – @KPHaley

I use my mobile every day for business (internet mktg). – @robert_brady

At our organization all of upper management and those that travel often use Blackberry (about 50 total) – @Ileane

With smartphone penetration rates growing small business do not escape the trend. — @fjfonseca

Q2: What are the top uses of mobile devices by small businesses? #SMBchat

Symantec research shows email as top use for SMBs and 54% use line-of-business applications on mobile devices — @SymantecEMM

A line of business application for example is a financial reporting tool or a real estate listings application. @SymantecEMM

Don’t forget technologies like Square that empower the SB’s owner to use mobile. — @fjfonseca

Many #smallbusiness owners have asked us to create an app to use their devices to scan inventory ^Matt — @inFlowInventory

Q3: What is the biggest security issue when it comes to small-business mobile usage? #SMBchat

96% of lost phones had the data accessed in our study. Even those returned. — @KPHaley

Lost or stolen, once out of the user’s hands a phone must be considered breached.  — @KPHaley

315 new mobile vulnerabilities found in 2011. 90% increase. Opportunity for bad guys is there. — @KPHaley

My guess is the “human factor,” leaving the mobile phone, no keyboard / PIN lock.  — @Lyceum

Lost phones are actually the biggest risk for SMBs: — @KPHaley

Device loss, data leakage, unauthorized access to corporate resources and malware infection are all big security issues. —  @KPHaley

Here is a list I put together for protecting your phone.  —  @KPHaley

Take a look at this Symantec blogpost on wardriving. Mobile devices, PCs are vulnerable attack — @SymantecEMM

Connect to encryption enabled wifi networks or only use applications that transmit via HTTPS  – RT @SymantecEMM @TJMcCue

If you are really dealing with sensitive data, use a VPN. Ask your geek friend to set it up. — @fjfonseca

Remote wipe or encryption, pick the one that works for you. Protect the data on your mobile device. — @KPHaley

Phishing is also harder to detect on smart phones because of the smaller screens.– @KPHaley

Q4: Which presents the bigger security risk to a company:  a mobile device or a PC? Why? #SMBchat

Mobile devices are easier to lose and when discovered, curiosity can lead to violation of personal privacy: — @SymantecEMM

Malware for mobile devices is less common than malware targeting PCs, however we’re seeing more Trojanized apps —  @SymantecEMM

Both. Need to be secure and protected — @txtnlrn

Don’t use the same password for different accounts, services. #StaySafe  — @TJMcCue RT @fjfonseca

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

#Smbchat tonight is a course in security – follow on Twitter and save your biz from hackers — @RamonRay

Q5: In terms of mobile risk, what are the main consequences (losses)? #SMBchat

Losses stem from direct financial expenses, loss of data, and damage to brand or loss of customer trust — @KPHaley

This one blows my mind: SMBs averaged $126,000 of loss in the past year due to mobile computing issues  — @KPHaley

18% of all targeted attacks are directed at businesses with < 250 employees.  — @SymantecEMM

Q6: Which is more likely: having your mobile device hacked into or losing it and someone accessing private info?#SMBchat

I would guess losing it and someone accessing private info. So many people lose their phones. — @LisaSchulteis

Both are risks. Only 50% of smartphone finders contacted the owner in our smartphone experiment — @SymantecEMM

This stat is important, 18% of all targeted attacks are directed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees. — @SymantecEMM

Not everyone can hack a phone. Everyone has the skills to steal one. — @KPHaley

People are basically good. Just insanely curious. Don’t get down on humanity because of  —  @KPHaley

I have heard stories about how the police have found the criminals by GPS location and “find my phone” app. — @Lyceum

Find my phone is a good example. If you lose your phone you know you can secure your data. — @SymantecEMM @Lyceum

Because regular users keep thinking “it only happens to the others” until it happens to them. — @fjfonseca @Mayura

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

Q7: What can small businesses do today to reduce risk in mobile computing? #SMBchat

And this will sound familiar: Keep security software up-to-date; encrypt data going to and from the device. — @KPHaley

Save yourself a lot of grief: Only use app marketplaces hosted by well-known and legitimate vendors  — @KPHaley

Good start: Enforce policies for acceptable use, screen lock, passwords, and application downloads for all users.  —  @KPHaley

Protect mobile devices with Android Lock passwords and use Apps that can wipe a phone/tablet clean if lost or stolen — @VernessaTaylor RT @jbrath

Pick a vendor that manages the updates for you. Not your job to remember to update. — @KPHaley

For some current statistics on the State of Mobility, download:

Note:  to make the recap easier to read, tweets above have been edited to remove redundant information, such as hashtags and answer numbers.  Obvious misspellings and broken links also were fixed.  Tweets may be slightly out of order, for better readability. The above represents only a small portion of the tweets — it is intended to cover key highlights for reader convenience, not serve as a full transcript of the chat.

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.