An AVG survey of 1,000 US- and UK-based small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) conducted by GfK in 2011 shows that the adoption of mobile technology is a visible trend with one in five SMBs (19%) employing Android smartphones and an equal proportion using BlackBerry devices.
The survey called SMB Market Landscape Report 2011, reports that on average, employees are spending one day a week (20% of their time) working away from the office.
With the Olympics fast approaching, SMBs in and around London will be affected by the increase in traffic on public transport. Many have begun to think of ways to keep workers productive and remote and mobile working has become an increasingly attractive option. With people from all across the world coming to London, the Olympic Games can also potentially become a haven for criminal opportunists looking to steal mobile devices and data.
Whilst the majority of SMBs may have an Olympic travel strategy it is important that they also have an adequate IT security plan that will keep their data secure outside of the office. Despite numerous high-profile cases of hacking into corporate databases in recent years, only about six in 10 (58%) SMBs said they were worried about loss of company or customer information, social engineering or employee identity theft. SMBs seem to assume their larger competitors are more likely to be targeted by data thieves.
The SMB Market Landscape Report highlighted losses relating to security breaches including 22.1 million man-hours of labour responding to them. This equated to £1.18m spent on replacing damaged hardware and £2.19m in lost sales or revenue opportunities. Furthermore, stolen data can be used by criminals for financial gain or malicious intent and could result in a loss of reputation for the SMB.
There are ways to keep SMBs mobile workers secure and an antivirus solution should be the first point of implementation within the SMBs IT security strategy. Security software can be installed on devices such as the mobile phone, tablet or laptop easily and quickly and in the event of a stolen device, software can be installed that allow a user to lock, locate and wiped their devices to avoid further security threats.
In addition to using antivirus security software, AVG has created ten top tips for effective mobile working to help SMB employees stay protected during the Olympics:
1. Count the items you take out of your bag out and count them back in if you are working while on public transport — don’t forget your power cable or any other important item!
2. Think about where you are sitting and whether anyone can look over at your screen — this might sound like an obvious thing to point out, but thieves steal credit card PIN numbers by looking over peoples’ shoulders all the time, so be aware of the details you have on your screen.
3. As use of personal mobile Wi-Fi hotspots grows, users should not be tempted to connect with an apparently free wireless connection in a public place unless it is advertised by the web café owner etc. If you don’t know where your connection comes from, then you don’t know what you are connecting to.
4. Shut down your Bluetooth connection (unless you need it) when working in a public place. So-called ‘Bluejacking’ and ‘Bluesnarfing’ attacks are not the biggest information security risk around, but they are a consideration to be aware of.
5. If you have to use a “public” (or kiosk) computer then make sure that you never access your online banking details, make electronic purchases, or enter ANY personally identifiable information (including your address) on the machine. Be equally careful on your own laptop if using public Wi-Fi.
6. If your smartphone has Internet access, have you enabled filters and other onboard protection barriers? Similarly, turning off GPS capabilities can also limit location-trackers attempting to connect with your phone.
7. Don’t ask a stranger to “look after” your laptop while you use the restroom or go to the bar in a web café. Similarly, keep your laptop bag close to you throughout an evening event if you have to keep all your equipment with you.
8. Password protection should be enabled on your laptop and smartphone — and 12345678 or password or admin are not sensible passwords. Opt for an alphanumeric mix with special characters in upper and lower cases such as “puppyLove567$.”
9. Make a note of your smartphone manufacturer’s emergency phone line so you can call them to have your phone immobilised in the event of a loss.
10. Most important of all, make sure that you have a fully updated anti-virus suite installed and fully operational on your PC at all times. Protection should cover not only Internet security for web browsing, but also firewall technology, email defences and shields to guard against threats carried via Instant Messenger services.
By Mike Foreman, SVP of global sales at AVG