Security Strategies to Protect Important Information

In my last post I wrote about companies letting their employees to use their own devices, this time I want to show you which measures some companies are taking to secure their business information.

We need to be aware that when we less expected something might happen to our personal devices, and our information might get loss or might fall into the wrong hands.

So what are companies doing to ensure nothing happens?

Here are some strategies the smartest companies are using to maintain the balance that I read in the Wall Street Journal online.

1. Locking and Deleting

Most companies insists to their workers to use the password feature found in every smartphone.  This password prevents other to get access to the device.  And even though is not the best security measure it helps to prevent unwanted access to corporate data or information about future projects.

If a phone is lost or stolen, or an employee leaves, Kimberly-Clark Corp. has a hard-line solution, they will erase the device remotely.

Ramon Baez, chief information officer for the company, is working on a “self destruct” option that would automatically erase a phone in case it´s lost and disconnected for an extended period of time.   But this practice doesn´t applied everywhere.  In countries like China and South Korea, employers by law are not allow to erase personal data on their worker´s pones, and for this reason he doesn´t allow workers there the usage of personal devices at work.

A remote erasing also deletes any personal information on the phone, such as contact numbers and family photos.  Since these are small devices and are easily misplaced or stolen, it is vital for a company to have the ability to wipe company-sensitive information.  The company will wipe a device as soon as it is reported lost, or if the user reaches the maximum number of attempts with an incorrect password. The threat of losing all that may helps make people more vigilant about keeping track of the phone.

2. Walling Off Data

Companies that are in the industry area –such as medicine or finance- have to do a lot more to protect sensitive data while employees are still using the devices.

Medical companies have to follow rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that protect customer data.

Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. uses software from Good Technology Inc. to carve out a part of an employee´s devices strictly for corporate use.  All the corporate data will go into this secure part and can´t be moved or downloaded into the phone itself.  If the phone is lost or if the person leaves the company, Nationwide can wipe that portion of the device, leaving the personal information intact.

Mr. Vasudeva, chief technology officer of Nationwide says that beyond the typical password found on a cellphone, the container has its own password, and the data inside are encrypted.

3. Dealing with Variety

Not all the Smartphones counts with the same operating system, so compatibility is one of the technical problems the IT department of a company has to deal with, it takes lots of time and resources to build and test a different version of the same application for every single one.

Most companies because of this reason are trying to keep things “simple”.  The employees who use their own phones can get access only to the company email network and not any other work software.

Kimberly-Clark is looking to partners such as AT&T Inc. to help it create a mobile-enterprise-application plattform.  This new technology allows a company to create one app and have it run on all devices.

By using the technology, the company “gains the ability to effectively manage the cost of supporting many different devices”. Mr. Baez says.

4. A virtual solution

With the technique called virtualization, from providers such as Citrix Systems Inc., mentioned in my last post, some companies give workers access to more than just company email.  The employees can then use that software to access their entire desktop on the device and use the same programs on the road that they use in the office.

For example Royal Dutch Shell PLC is testing these kinds of systems with tablets such as the iPad.  Jay Crotts, the company´s vice president of IT services, remarks that placing virtualization software on employee´s personal tablets is less expensive than outfitting them with company-purchased laptops.

He says that virtualization answer the following question: “How can you increase productivity and allow more ubiquitous access?”

4. Cost

Not all the smartphones´problems are technical, there is also a matter of cost.  Smartphone bills can be steep for some users and most of them want the company to kick in if they´re using the phone for work too.

Some companies have found ways to reimburse employees for their phone use.  Another use a Telecom expense-management program (in the USA), which allocates some expenses to the company and some to the worker.

In some cases companies pays for the whole data portion of the bill, other go further and cover the whole bill.  It may vary depending on the type of employee and the type of organization involved.

Nationwide gives employees a stipend for those workers who are using their own devices, equal to what their BlackBerry bills woud have been if it would be a company phone, which ranges from $70 to $100 a month, and the difference the worker has to cover it.

Wait for my next blog post about the possible problems smartphones could develop in a business.

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One thought on “Security Strategies to Protect Important Information

  1. Pingback: The “Bad” Side of Smartphones | Toolfools

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