How can you improve your mobile endpoint security in your enterprise?
First, we should define what mobile endpoint security means in the larger context of cybersecurity. The distinctions between endpoint security and mobile device management can prove difficult to discern and distinguish even to experts. After all, mobile devices qualify as endpoints—as devices, they connect to enterprise networks and serve as ports for traffic.
On the other hand, mobile devices operate differently than more traditional endpoints; they possess different operating systems and processing powers, and of course have greater flexibility in their location.
Blurring the lines between the two branches further, the proliferation of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture among enterprises increases the number of unknown mobile devices and endpoints connecting to the networks. Businesses need some form of endpoint security to keep these mobile devices in check.
Thankfully, a little common sense and a few key policies can ensure you have a strong mobile endpoint security platform as your enterprise scales and adapts to the digital marketplace. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions.
Deploy a Strong Endpoint Security Solution
Basic? Yes, a little. But if you want to fit mobile devices into your digital perimeter securely, you need a powerful cybersecurity solution.
For mobile endpoint security, you’ll need a next-gen solution with the right key features—firewalls, EDR, next-gen anti-virus, etc. However, you’ll also need a solution which you can deploy on mobile devices, including devices belonging to your employees. Enforcing consistency in your perimeter creates a much stronger barrier against foes in both the short and long terms.
Regulate Downloads on Company Endpoints
This principle applies equally to traditional and mobile endpoint security; you must establish and enforce clear rules about employees can and cannot download on your network. Hackers love to hide their malicious programs in seemingly innocuous programs, applications, and even documents—all the better to fool victims and evade detection for as long as possible.
Set up a clear channel of communication for employees to contact your IT security team if they need a new, unrecognized download for their business processes. Your team can then investigate the app and determine its authenticity. Enforce strict penalties for employees who do not follow these rules; cybersecurity policies need teeth if they aim to change user behaviors.
But how do you enforce mobile endpoint security on devices you don’t own?
Encourage Download and Cybersecurity Best Practices
The problem with mobile endpoint security in a BYOD culture is you don’t have direct control over what your employees do with those devices outside of office hours.
Your business can ask them to download your endpoint security solution as part of the criteria to connect the device to the network. However, once they return to their home network, they could download any number of rogue applications which could carry trojans, cryptojacking malware, etc. Even if they don’t, they could fall prey of a vulnerable web page in the course of their job duties.
The solution lies in education. Training your employees in mobile endpoint security best practices—how to recognize a rogue application, how to remove rogue applications from their devices, how to safely browse sites off-hours, etc.—should help keep these mobile devices safe (or safer) even when you can’t protect them directly.
Hold the Mobile Devices to High Standards
Many enterprises believe having a BYOD culture allows employees to connect any device to their network without question. This notion could not be more mistaken.
Your enterprise can (and should) create and enforce clear rules about what devices can and cannot connect to the network for work purposes. You may or may not wish employees to connect personal devices to the Wi-Fi—this decision is up to you and your level of trust in your employees not to abuse their personal device privileges during work hours.
Your IT security team can (and should) absolutely vet devices before they connect to your enterprise network and pose a potential risk. Aditionally, your business absolutely should mandate mobile devices have all the latest updates and patches installed before they connect; furthermore, you can require the devices to stay up-to-date to keep that privilege.
You should also forbid any IoT devices which don’t have adequate update schedules or easy-to-patch firmware. An out-of-date or unpatched device serves as a tantalizing target for hackers. Don’t give them an easy win.
Hold Your Employees to High Standards
In a world increasingly dominated by conversations of robots, algorithms, and automation, the fact remains: humans still need to give these devices direction and maintenance to function. Mobile devices don’t get hacked by just sitting on a desk. Your employees are still responsible for their mobile endpoint security just as much as you are.
Therefore, if an employee downloads proprietary data onto their mobile device, they should treat it like a company asset; if it becomes lost or stolen they need to immediately alert you so you can adequately defend yourself. If they fall victim to a phishing attack, they have to let you know immediately.
Should they fail in these duties, you should have clear discipline guidelines in place and in the employee handbook
You need to impress on your employees their role in cybersecurity. They are the largest attack vector. If they don’t take mobile endpoint security as seriously as you do, they’ll also become your most porous one.
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