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In today’s fast-paced world, companies everywhere are embracing mobile devices to easily conduct business on the go. But, while this offers the convenience of knowing that a problem or communication can be handled at the drop of a hat, buying all of that equipment can be pricy.

So, many companies are now allowing employees to use their own mobile devices for work. Sure, it saves money, but it also puts company data at risk, especially if your employees aren’t taking the right steps to protect their devices.

This not only puts your data at risk, but also your customers’.

The best way to solve this problem is to teach your employees about mobile security and show them the steps they can take to protect their devices.

What’s mobile security?

Mobile security is the act of protecting mobile devices from threats and vulnerabilities. It safeguards any business data that has been stored, accessed or conducted on the device(s).

It includes both tools (antivirus and malware programs) and actions that employees can practice (such as proper password applications).

Let’s take a look at what steps you and your employees can take to protect your data.

How can you keep your cell phones and other mobile devices secure?

It’s estimated that over 70 million cell phones are lost every year. For most hackers, they only need that one device to access every bit of information they need.

That’s why employees must guard their devices and take steps to protect the information those devices access. Here are some steps they can take to protect their phones, tablets, laptops and more:

Know where your device is at all times

Carry them in the same place every time you go somewhere.

Create strong passcodes for your devices

Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that only you will remember, and use different passwords for different devices. Also, include a timeout feature requiring authentication after a period of inactivity.

Use biometric identification, when available

Devices now include fingerprint scanners and facial recognition apps. Some people skip over these parts while setting up their device, but make sure that your employees don’t!

Enable location-tracking functions

You’d be hard-pressed to find a device that doesn’t have a tracking option built into it. As soon as you receive a device, find the location-tracking function and turn it on. But, remember that some of these apps use location data, so make sure you review app settings.

Turn off functions when not using them

This includes the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions on your devices. Hackers can trace the signals and try to get into your phone/tablet even if they’re not connected to anything.

Avoid “bumping” when transferring information

Some devices can transfer data between devices by simply touching them together. Talk to your IT/security team to find out the best way to share information.

Be careful when charging your devices

Only use your own charging cables, and don’t accept free ones, as tempting as they may be. Public charging stations and free USB chargers sound convenient, but they’re also risky. Bad actors could install malware on charging cables that can infect your phone and steal your info.

Don’t conduct financial transactions over public wireless networks

If you absolutely have to, make sure the site is protected through a URL with “https” at the beginning. This provides a more secure connection.

Only install applications from legitimate application stores

If it’s not from the app store that your phone came with, don’t trust it.

Know what data certain applications can access on your device

Some apps only access data that they need to function while others may gain access to data unrelated to the app’s purpose.

Use remote wipe software

These tools remotely delete all the information on a device so that no one can gain access to its information.

Provide a secure application suite for employee use

Companies like Microsoft, Google and Blackberry all offer products that provide their own security containers to protect your business data from vulnerabilities or threats.

How can you keep your mobile data secure?

Nationwide’s Agent Authority cybersecurity research found that although nearly half of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses, only 37% of small business owners reported believing they are at risk to fall victim to a cyberattack. And half (53%) say they do not offer cybersecurity training to their employees. While the steps we used above focus specifically on mobile devices, there are also things you can do within your office and home that will protect your company’s sensitive info.

Continue to use strong passcodes

Again, use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols that only you will remember, and use different passwords for different devices. Also, include a timeout feature requiring authentication after a period of inactivity.

Download the latest operating system updates and security software

Work with your IT/security team to see which security programs would work best for your company, then update them regularly. If you don’t have your own tech team, research the different programs available and get the best one for you.

Look out for phishing emails

Teach your employees to recognize all the red flags of phishing and not to click on links or open attachments unless they are certain they’re from legitimate senders.

Use multi-factor and two-faced authentication programs

These will ask you to input different passcodes at different levels to protect your devices. This may include a typed password to get into the devices and then facial/fingerprint recognition to run programs, or vice-versa.

How can you learn more?

Mobile devices can do wonders for your business. But, we have to make sure that we’re also protecting them. The last thing your business needs is to be the victim of a cyberattack that could’ve been easily prevented.

To learn more and see other resources to help you, check out our Nationwide Business Solutions Center to find more resources on starting or running your business.

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The information contained in this blog was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nothing in this brochure is intended to imply a grant of coverage.