Mobile phones are an essential business tool and, while the technology lets you keep in touch from nearly any location, there are some serious security issues.
As phones and telecom-capable personal digital assistants (PDAs) become increasingly smaller, they have become easier to lose and steal. Moreover, with their growing capabilities for storing personal and business information, they are becoming more desirable for thieves and play a growing role in identity theft.
And it's not just the mobile phone user who loses out. Businesses also suffer.
Employees find themselves without their business contacts – as well as critical and sensitive corporate information – that were stored on the devices. Even more devastating is when an employee's stolen PDA is connected to a company's network, thus compromising vast amounts of data.
Some manufacturers include chips on handheld devices that allow the owner to remotely disable the device if it is lost or stolen. Virtual Private Network software also can be added to PDAs to protect those devices if they fall into the wrong hands.
While mobile phone makers are taking steps to solve the problem, there are security precautions your company can take.
For example, install security features on phones that enable an alarm to be activated if the devices are lost or stolen. You also can set the phones up to show a permanent text in the display area (for example, a name and office phone number).
Stress the importance to staff members of keeping devices and data safe. Bring in a security expert to explain the basics of protecting your assets, and reward employees for compliance when possible.
Additional steps to help prevent theft and improve the chances of recovering phones include:
- Locking the phone with a password.
- Keeping track of where the phone is, never leaving it unattended.
- Reading phone contracts carefully – some contracts provide for specific steps you must take if your phone is stolen.
- Notifying the police immediately so there is a written record of any theft.
- Calling the phone company to report the theft. Make a note of the time of the call, who you talked to and the person's job title. This can help later if the company says the theft wasn't reported and you have thousands of phone charges on your next bill.
- Recording the phone's International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. This can assist the police in proving the phone was stolen.
- Activating PIN numbers, which prevent unauthorized calls being made on your phone if it is stolen.
- Marking the phone and the battery with some identifying, but not identity-revealing, text.