Enterprise Mobile Device Security: Personal Device Loss or Theft Precautions - dummies

Enterprise Mobile Device Security: Personal Device Loss or Theft Precautions

By Rich Campagna, Subbu Iyer, Ashwin Krishnan, Mark Bauhaus

If your IT policy allows personal mobile devices to access network resources, prevention of loss or theft and remediation of any damage is likely to be part of your responsibilities. Here are some precautions you should advise users to take to prevent losing vital data on a personal mobile device if it’s ever lost or stolen:

  • Add a device password. Every device needs to be protected by a password. Not setting one is simply too risky, because a thief can easily access all the phone’s information without having to guess the password. Also, users need to make sure that the phone is set to lock automatically after a certain duration of inactivity.

  • Back up often. The contents of the device must be backed up regularly, including photos, contacts, and videos. In the unfortunate circumstance that the device is lost, the phone’s contents may need to be wiped remotely to prevent a thief from accessing the information.

    As an IT administrator, you can choose to either deploy a corporate backup and restore system or advise users to manage their own backups and restoration. Having backups is particularly useful if a user loses his device and the device needs to be remotely wiped. When the user gets a new device to replace the lost one, the backed up data can easily be restored to the new device.

  • Store the device’s IMEI number. The device’s IMEI, or International Mobile Equipment Identity, is a 15-digit number that uniquely identifies it. Carriers use this number to identify and track the device. Ask device owners to locate the IMEI number using appropriate techniques for their phones and store it in a safe place.

    Different devices have different techniques for locating the IMEI number. For example, an iPhone’s IMEI number can easily be retrieved by using iTunes.

  • Deploy antitheft services. Several carriers offer insurance or other antitheft services for smartphones, including the ability to remotely lock, locate, or wipe devices. Device owners can purchase many such services from the carrier directly. Some device vendors also offer these services for their specific device types.

    Enterprise-grade services are available from vendors like Good Technology, McAfee, Juniper, and many others. The Junos Pulse solution from Juniper includes corporate remote access along with mobile antitheft and security services. Depending on the scale and nature of your need, you’ll find an appropriate solution out there.

The difference between a personal (consumer) solution and an enterprise-ready solution is that the latter lets you — the IT administrator — enforce mobile policies from a central management console. A personal solution relies solely on users doing the “right thing” in terms of setting passcode policies or remotely wiping the device if it’s been lost or stolen.