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Does the mobile workforce pose a security threat?

In recent years, the global workforce has been becoming increasingly mobile, with more employees working remotely and/or bringing their own devices into the workplace. While the arguments in favour of mobile working are significant, there remains still a significant challenge around keeping the business secure with the growing number of connected devices entering and leaving the network.

The primary concern with a mobile workforce, is that ensuring security relies strongly on the workforce themselves. Human error is typically the largest cause of data security breaches in organisations, and with mobile working extending the corporate security boundary businesses are more at risk of data reaching an unauthorized individual.

In a BYOD environment, employees are often to be found using personal storage devices such as external memory (e.g. USB memory sticks), smart phones, tablets, or even e-mailing sensitive information to their own personal email accounts to access them outside the network. As the potential to remove or copy information to locations outside the corporate network increases, organisations need to put strict policies and procedures in place to minimise the risks associated with such behaviour.

For example, if data is stored on a personal mobile device which is then lost or stolen, this data could easily fall into the wrong hands. This information could then be sold, could be published widely for the public and stakeholders to see, or could be used (depending on the information in question) to break through network defenses and access even more critical business information. Once a hacker is inside the network, there is no stopping them from accessing all business information, from customer data to confidential corporate details or plans.

This is expected to be a key concern with the implementation of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, as mobile working often allows corporate data to be moved and stored outside the traditional enterprise infrastructure, thus making it highly vulnerable to accidental or malicious loss, theft or sharing. In line with the GDPR, should an organisation find themselves suffering such a data breach, they could be at risk of large fines up to £20 million or 4% of their global annual turnover – which illustrates the importance of ensuring security among all connected devices and across information access in every organisation.

It is important, therefore, that solutions are put in place to ensure maximum security over corporate documents as the workforce grows increasingly mobile. The solutions required will vary by company, based on existing setup, procedures and use, however there are a number of solutions that will be universally beneficial across the board. Such solutions include the likes of secure cloud-based storage systems such as SharePoint, which allow for remote access of documents without emailing files, and can trace edits and access of documents to ensure full traceability. It can also require a user to enter their login details, and can be wiped remotely which adds an extra layer of security in the case of a device being lost or stolen. With such solutions in place, any members of teams with access permissions can open documents from any location or device, without the requirement to transfer documents via email, easily-lost USB memory sticks, or printing and transporting hard copies which may also become lost. Similarly, such solutions can be paired with document capture solutions such as scanning and workflow solutions, so that documents can be scanned directly to the appropriate folder on the cloud or server, meaning that confidential files are not stored on PCs where they could be accessed if a PC is left logged on, or becomes compromised.

Furthermore, if you are to allow users to utilize their own devices for business purposes, a reliable and secure mobile printing function will be required across the network to allow the workforce to print directly from their mobiles or tablet PCs. Xeretec has a host of mobile printing solutions in our portfolio, including Xerox Mobile Print, Xerox Mobile Print Cloud and EveryonePrint – to ensure that there is a solution to fit the needs of every business. 

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