Tips to keep work data on mobile devices safe while on holiday

3 Jul 2012

Summertime means holiday time, and workers may be jetting off to foreign destinations with their mobile devices – and possibly company data and information – in tow. Here’s how company data can be kept secure if an employee plans to work while far away from the office, courtesy of tips from Chris Mayers, Chief Security Architect at Citrix.

Mayers recommends enterprises take the following steps to protect their data:

1.      Move data into the data centre: Keeping data in the data centre is central to a secure environment, allowing security measures such as anti-malware to be enabled and consistent for any device – whether enterprise or user-owned. Adopting a centralised approach gives users greater flexibility but also allows an organisation to implement instant shutdown if a device is lost or stolen.

2.      Create mobile security best practices: Recommend measures to end-users, for example, using device authentication so devices cannot be easily accessed by anyone who finds or steals a device.

3.      Inform and educate users on their responsibility: Ensure all employees are informed of your company’s security policies and remind them to update their mobile devices with the latest security software. Make employees aware of their personal responsibility in this regard; especially during the summer holiday period.

Tips Mayers offers individual employees are as follows:

1.      Unpack your mobile device first: ‘Unpack’ your mobile working device by getting rid of any sensitive information. Make sure you tidy up your device before you go on holiday, so if it were stolen or mislaid, no confidential data can be compromised. If using a device such as a laptop, make sure all portable media are removed from the drives, and clear cached files regularly – check with your IT department if you need help with this prior to your departure.

2.      Lock up: Lock all mobile working devices with a pass code and do not store personal or sensitive corporate email or passwords in plain sight.

3.      Be wary with Wi-Fi: If using Wi-Fi hotspots while abroad, ensure you have updated security software on your device and do not perform financial transactions while using Wi-Fi hotspots or hotel networks. Be wary of “rogue” hotspots, which may be set up by opportunists looking to obtain sensitive information from users.

4.      Know how to stay in touch: If you are planning to bring a device on holiday for work purposes, know in advance the access codes and PINs you will need. Be organised, and prepare a week in advance to ensure smooth and hassle-free access. 

5.      Tell your IT department: Make sure to tell your IT department where you are going so they can support you while you are away, if need be. In the case of loss or theft of a device, inform your IT manager as soon as possible.

6.      Think about what you need to take with you: When travelling abroad, don’t take devices or sensitive information with you “just in case” you may need it. Only bring what you will really need to perform work tasks.

“While mobile working devices increase productivity and flexibility for both employers and end users, holidays are there for a reason, so only work if necessary!” Mayers adds.

Mobile device on beach image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic