Many small businesses don't have a dedicated IT manager or security administrator. Here are the crucial steps you should take to make sure that valuable business data on smartphones stays secure.
Lifehacker's Simplifying Small Business series of tips is presented by Vodafone.
Smartphones brings massive benefits to businesses of all sizes -- it's easy to stay in touch with employees and you can easily access business data wherever you are. That ease of access also brings risks, however. If a phone is misplaced or stolen, how can you ensure that your business doesn't suffer?
There's no such thing as perfect security, but taking some simple basic steps will minimise those risks. Here's what you need to do.
Make Sure Everyone Sets Passcodes Or Passwords
It's a basic security precaution that is neglected all too often: setting a password, passcode or pass pattern so that your phone can't be instantly accessed by anyone who handles it. This should be a requirement for any employees who can access business systems -- even if that's only email -- on their phone. Every modern smartphone platform supports it, so you have no excuses. The tiny inconvenience of having to type in your passcode (or use your fingerprint if it's a phone that supports that) is absolutely worth the additional protection it offers.
Follow Good Password Practice
The main passcode isn't the only password on your phone -- any apps you use to access business systems, whether that's email or finance software, will also have their own passwords. Make sure you follow good password practice with these. In particular:
- Set a different password for every application. Reusing the same password makes you far more vulnerable -- if the password for one app is leaked, everything is compromised.
- Make sure the password is complex, with a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols. If you have trouble remembering them, install a password manager.
For more tips, check out our guide on the most common mistakes people make with passwords.
Set Up Remote Wipe And Location Options
Android and iOS both offer the ability to locate your phone if you've misplaced it, and also to wipe it if it goes missing and you're worried about someone stealing data from it. Detailed instructions on how to set that up for iOS are here, and for Android are here.
Completely Wipe Phones When You Get Rid Of Them
When it's time to upgrade your smartphone, chances are you'll either sell the old one, pass it on to another employee or family member or -- if it's really old -- send it off for recycling. Whatever option you choose, make sure you wipe the phone first.
Our detailed guide walks you through the steps for popular platforms. Remember to remove any SD cards or other storage if it's an Android phone.
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