6 Mobile Security Strategies For Your Remote Workforce

Why mobile security is more important than ever for your workforce

As companies adapt to a “new normal” work environment, enterprise mobility—and mobile security—is becoming a focal point for organizations across all industries.

Whether it’s a technician who is handling repairs out in the field; a delivery driver who helps companies close the “last mile” gaps between their distribution centers and customers; or an engineer who spends weeks at a time working on geographically remote projects, these mobile workers play a vital role in many organizations’ overall operations.

With the number of connected devices continuing to proliferate, the business case for enterprise mobility continues to accelerate across many different types of businesses. With more organizations offering “work from home” options in response to COVID-19, for example, the need for even more mobility is sure to grow in the coming months. According to a recent Willis Towers Watson survey, 46% of organizations are now offering remote work opportunities to their employees and 55% are encouraging the use of more virtual meetings in lieu of business travel.

Colleagues talk to each other on the laptop screen. Conference video call, working from home.

Expect to see these percentages increase as more companies deploy remote business management strategies. Concurrently, hackers will be coming up with new ways to infiltrate these systems and wreak havoc on them. “It is clear that security and mobility go hand-in-hand, and that to continue to reap the benefits of workplace mobility, potential IT risks must be first addressed,” Security Magazine reports. “As part of those strategies, organizations must implement security policies and procedures designed to protect both themselves and their remote employees.”

Pointing to the “Fancy Bear” attacks of 2019, the publication says it doesn’t take a huge target to get the hackers’ attention. In that instance, they picked a seemingly innocuous target: printers connected to a company network. “The hackers used these devices as a beachhead to reach other network areas, continually laddering up to more and more sensitive information,” Security Magazine explains. This is just one of the many reasons why companies that have existing remote workforces—or are changing their work-from-home policies—must deploy strict security policies.

Staying One Step Ahead of the Next Threat

Maintaining effective mobile security means staying one step ahead of the next threat. Fortunately, there are many tools and features available to help ease the IT burden, including Mobile Device Management (MDM), BIOS-embedded security, and operating system (OS) protections. Using a combination of internal and external controls, companies can ensure high levels of security for their mobile devices and solutions.

Here are six tools and strategies that all companies should be using with their remote workforces:

  1. Mobile Device Management (MDM). Security software used to monitor, manage, and secure employees’ mobile devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers—and across multiple mobile operating systems—MDM is a critical part of any enterprise mobility setup. MDM provides security flexibility, allowing IT to remotely lock down device functionality, monitor and limit access, track assets, and protect data via remote data wipes (in case of theft or loss). The three stages of MDM are provisioning, production, and decommissioning. Each stage involves a comprehensive set of procedures to help ensure enterprise mobile adoption goes smoothly and IT policies are set and followed.
  2. Asset tracking systems. When integrated with MDM, mobile-based asset tracking provides real-time updates on the location, condition, and physical custody of a particular piece of equipment. For example, a tablet deployed to an engineer to check the status and location of mining drills or other equipment might be inadvertently left at a satellite field office trailer. With asset tracking, IT can readily locate the lost device and direct field crews to retrieve it.
  3. Regular data backups. “Between phishing attacks and ransomware, an enterprise’s most sensitive data is at risk and can be compromised at any time,” said Enterprise Mobility Exchange. “Malware is a big threat, with tool-based apps representing the biggest threats.” In a world where the permanent loss of enterprise data could be devastating for an organization, the publication recommends regular backups of sensitive data. “Furthermore, this should be done on a regular basis, because it could occur at any time. Some organizations are already relying on backup services that handle this process. When a data backup occurs, an enterprise is able to restore data quicker.”
  4. Physical device security. Like other electronics, enterprise mobile devices can be susceptible to theft. While asset tracking and recovery are important features made possible with MDM, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices also allow for the physical “locking” of hardware. Through its partners, Panasonic also offers docks and mounts that secure the computer hardware to vehicles, as well as multi-factor authentication for device access.
  5. Good employee training. According to Pew Research, 28% of smartphone owners don’t even use a screen lock or other security features to access their phones. This and other lax security measures can create major problems for organizations that are managing remote workforces. Employees working remotely must be provided with basic security advice about phishing emails, avoiding public Wi-Fi, and ensuring that home Wi-Fi routers are sufficiently secured. “Employees should be particularly reminded to avoid clicking links in emails from people they do not know, and installation of third-party apps should be confined to bona fide app stores,” Computerworld points out, “even on personal devices.”

Creating a Custom Security Solution with BIOS-embedded Technologies

Consisting of a persistence module that’s installed during the device manufacturing process (e.g., Panasonic computers have BIOS-embedded security from absolute built-in) and an application agent installed by the organization itself, BIOS-embedded technologies provide an advanced level of protection for mobile workforces.

Using this application agent, IT can preset these agents to automatically delete sensitive company data or lock a device if it hasn’t connected and reported into a server within a proscribed number of days. Even if a mobile device has been wiped, the BIOS-embedded persistence module can provide forensic evidence for recovery once the application agent has been activated and the device is reconnected to the Internet.

Solving the Security Challenges of Mobile Work

With more companies than ever embracing remote work, managing enterprise mobile devices is becoming a key concern for these organizations. Purpose-built to meet the environmental, workflow, and security needs of enterprise mobility customers, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK mobile computers include various enterprise-level security features enabling companies to address their data security, access privileges, connectivity security, and device security needs. To learn more about enterprise mobility, visit our website.