Is mobile working safe?

SPONSORED: Cybersecurity will be essential in a future when you can run your business from your phone, but beware: the hackers may be closer than you think.

Last Updated: 01 Jul 2016

Ever since the advent of mobiles and wifi hotspots, the writing’s been on the wall for the business that goes to sleep when you do. The managers of the future will run their organisations increasingly from their smartphones. When information is at your fingertips, decision making becomes instant and everywhere.

In an age where agility and flexibility will be ever more important for organisations, that’s surely A Good Thing, right? Except where technology leads, cybercriminals follow – and we’ve all seen the havoc they can cause to corporate reputations and the bottom line.

The natural response is to barricade your business behind the anti-virus equivalent of the Great Wall of China. That’s not a bad idea necessarily, but the best technology in the world won’t protect you from a lax attitude. For instance, who said hackers of the future will always use an algorithm to break through your defences?  Half the time, it seems, it would be easier and less risky just to look over your shoulder on a crowded train (or hovertrain, as the case may be).

An experiment carried out by the Ponemon Institute for 3M revealed just how easy it was to visually hack corporate data without using even a single line of code.

Researchers disguised as temporary workers performed 157 visual hacks around the world, 23 in the UK. All they had to do was walk through the office, writing down any sensitive information they could see, ‘steal’ a stack of confidential documents from a desk and then take pictures of screens with their smartphones.

In an astonishing 91% of cases (87% in the UK) they were successful, taking such sensitive data as confidential business documents, financial information and log-in details. Nearly half of such data was simply observed from unprotected computer screens.

That was in the safety of a company office. As we work more and more on the move, on crowded trains, airport lounges and coffee shops, how much greater will the threat become? 

Before you throw your iPhone in a ravine and order a few dozen old-school filing cabinets to hide behind, you should know that there are things you can do to minimise the risks. Educating staff to be aware of potential vulnerabilities is essential. Screen savers can help too. One of the easiest, quickest and cheapest ways, though, is to install a privacy filter.

Clever film technology makes it impossible to view screens from the side, making it harder for would-be snoopers to catch a glimpse, and easier for you to spot them when they try.

The main change that’s required, however, is one of mentality. Your cybersecurity strategy cannot be an add-on to your IT department or a subscription to the latest anti-virus software – it needs to be ingrained in your attitudes, preferably under the oversight of a board member.

No one solution will guarantee your safety from the hackers in the future. But taking it seriously will go a long way to reducing the risk, leaving you free to make the most of the substantial business opportunities mobile working will bring.

For more information, here’s an animation summarising the key issues, threats, guidelines and potential fines - Learn more.

Key facts and stats are also available in an easy to digest infographic – Learn more


Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime