Are small business employees using multiple devices for work? Tips to protect data

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Today’s tools for business are a far cry from the days when a desk phone and PC were standard small business office equipment. With a desire to be always on, most workers, whether they bring their own mobile devices (BYOD) or use ones provisioned by the company, work from a desktop or laptop, smartphone and possibly a tablet to conduct business throughout the workday.

Why so many devices to get work done?  ITProPortal.com, a leading UK source of technology, indicates a global survey found that workers believe using a range of devices makes them more productive, connected and able to respond more quickly to changing events. As an example, if someone is working on a laptop and an email comes in needing an urgent reply; the person can make a call over a smartphone, using a headset to cancel out background noise, versus a softphone in order to avoid interrupting the workflow.

And the rule is not one device per task, either.  ITProPortal.com points out that workers often start one activity and finish it on another. This is especially true of smartphones. When workers start activities on a smartphone, they often finish them on a laptop at some point.  Cloud storage makes this possible by enabling employees to access information wherever they are over their preferred device.

Protect company data across devices

With employees using a range of devices, some of them personal, to access small business data in and out of the office, the risk of data compromise increases. According to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute and Keeper Security issued in June, 50 percent of small and medium businesses have had a security breach in the past 12 months. “The 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity” found that the most prevalent breaches are web-based and phishing/social engineering.

Protecting small business data begins with education. Training should cover the risks posed by viewing and editing company data over public Wi-Fi networks as well as downloading software from the Internet, providing sensitive information on websites and opening suspicious attachments.

Small business cyber security measures also should include:

Control mobile device access: Instruct employees to password protect mobile devices and encrypt data to protect loss from cyber threats. Establish policies for lost or stolen devices.

Create user account on business computers: Create separate user accounts for each employee and require strong passwords that are changed regularly.

Control data access: Employees should only have access to data that is relevant to their jobs within the organization. Grant employees access to data on a “need to know” basis.

Update antivirus software: Keep security software, web browsers and operating systems up to date as a protection against viruses and malware. Always run a security system scan after each update.

Install firewalls: Make sure firewalls that come with the computer’s operating system are always turned on. Firewall software can be installed for more robust protection.

Secure Wi-Fi networks: Password protect your Wi-Fi network so only those who have access to the password can get on.

It may take more than one device to get the job done these days. But it only takes one hack to jeopardize small business data. Make sure it’s protected.

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.