To view the mobile security and privacy problem in management terms, consider that businesses generally dislike uncertainty of any kind. But the mobile revolution and resulting patchwork quilt of search and seizure laws across borders suggests plenty of businesses have zero certainty about whose hands their data could fall into. Once an unencrypted device is imaged, there is no going back. It is impossible to know with certainty how law enforcement authorities here or anywhere will parse patent drawings; budget spreadsheets or acquisition plans while searching for evidence. There are too many variables. Even if we assume authorizes will act in good faith and take measures to respect confidentiality, encryption is a far better bargain for applying controls over information, particularly if you are a lawyer worried about attorney-client privilege or work in an industry subject to tough data protection regimes. As mobile device searches become increasingly routine enterprise data swept up in evidence searches – “caught in the crossfire,” if you will – may have to be deemed “compromised,” if only for practical purposes.
The way forward
Companies need to monitor the global regulatory picture closely. The best defense, of course, is to compartmentalize access and information. A salesperson headed overseas does not need to carry your patent portfolio through border crossings. But except for these kinds of obvious cases, reconfiguring devices and networks around today’s shifting job roles and travel is tedious and impractical. Plus, when you strip-down handhelds to the point where they become safely “expendable” you start to offset the business value of all these great tools and connectivity. Why not build a standardized mobile security profile with encryption instead and let users bring the apps they need to be productive? Senior executives need to lay the foundation here by looking at requirements, risks that can be tolerated and mitigating them as far as possible.
On the technology side, mobile encryption is a powerful tool to tactically deploy in your plan. To securely harden many common types of smartphones quickly, look for encryption tools that to not require cumbersome hardware accessories or multi-tasking between apps just to read e-mail. Such ease of deployment positively empowers users and helps different types of devices in a company to benefit from consistent protection. Users of different hardware that all run some version of Android, for example, can in most cases go to the same app storefront and pull down their own security software. As technology rewrites our legal and societal perceptions of trust, privacy and security, businesses and consumers should expect continued legal dust-ups and uncertain times. Often the only recourse is to seize the initiative by taking proactive control. In this spirit, armoring-up your smartphone is easily done and could spare your company and career from needless future worry and pain.
Secure messaging with Gryphn’s app:
“Go from unsure to secure in 60 seconds or less — with the ‘year’s most innovative startup for national security‘