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Your Mobile Phone – The 21st Century Briefcase

Perhaps no other device in recent history has had as much of an impact on our lives as the smartphone. Your camera, notepad, GPS, calculator, contact book, and a variety of other items have all been replaced by this device, making your mobile phone your briefcase in today’s world. At our fingertips, we now have unprecedented access to important information in one place.   

It is undeniable that smartphone technology has produced a vast amount of positive effects for society, such as making it possible for millions of people who lack access to banks to conduct financial transactions, or giving emergency workers the ability to quickly respond to serious incidents. However, with this level of global connectivity comes extreme risk and threat. 

There are many reasons as to why some users would rather keep their confidential information off their mobile as they feel they have nowhere safe to store it. Paper copies of important documents are kept on file by 78% of people because they think they are more safe than digital storage, and 76% are growing more concerned that information saved electronically could be hacked. Hackers that invade our privacy can easily turn the characteristics of the smartphone that has proven to be so valuable against us. On your smartphone, you can use a variety of techniques to assist in protecting your privacy. 

Todays reliance on the mobile phone

This small piece of technology helped to slam the lid on the briefcase era. Many of us can’t quite remember how we survived without a smartphone because it performs so many of our daily duties. Your phone is with you at all times; it’s one of the first things you see when you wake up, and one of the last things you look at before going to sleep. You check your emails and calendar for the day as you eat breakfast and it’s always close by at work. Smartphones offer many advantages that people did not have before its invention, and we cannot even begin to fathom a world without them now. 

Its benefits for the business sector are another important aspect, particularly during the time of COVID-19 pandemic when there was a major reliance on BYOD due to the increase of employees suddenly working from home and there was a need in particular industries to continue their communication via mobile devices. Smartphones permanently altered how businesses with a global presence interact. Before, there was not this level of accessibility. 

The smartphone incorporated all of our demands into one device from a technological perspective which over time has replaced more traditional business methods. In essence, it is fair to say that smartphones have transformed and will continue to reshape our lives, but we must make sure we are safeguarding ourselves and our devices along the way. 

Common threats of your mobile holding confidential information

Your mobile holds important information that was once printed on paper and stored in a briefcase – whereas now you walk around with this confidential data in your pocket in a more digital and potentially unprotected way. So what is the difference between a smartphone and a briefcase? Simply put – you can’t hack a briefcase. 

When you allow your important information to be uploaded to the cloud or be stored anywhere on your mobile device you open up an array of opportunities to hackers. The majority of mobile device vulnerabilities are frequently caused by applications. These attacks can happen when users download malicious apps or grant programmes permission to access device data without first ensuring that it is safe to do so.  

Applications that are downloaded outside of the official app stores may not have the necessary security measures in place, which might result in data leaks. A survey from Deloitte revealed that 90% of consumers accept legal terms and conditions without reading them. By giving up our rights to control when clicking agree when downloading an app it is giving away our personal information to an app or website, allowing them to use it how they want, who they share it with, and how long they keep it, we unnecessarily expose ourselves to risk. 

Commonly used apps are often used as an attack vector for hackers. A prime example of this is the threat of ‘Pegasus’ a well known spyware, developed by the NSO Group and often transmitted through WhatsApp to hack into users’ smartphones. Pegasus enters without warning and grants itself permission to install spyware without the user’s awareness, implying that any employee, no matter how loyal or security conscientious, can be used to transport spyware into your most secret facilities and meeting rooms via WhatsApp or other consumer messaging systems. It’s difficult to restrict everyday users not to utilise popular applications, so it requires organisations to instill clear boundaries as to what systems should not be used for business purposes, or on company issued smartphones.  

How to protect your mobile ‘briefcase’ 

So.. what do you do now to protect your digital ‘briefcase’? Permanently erasing an electronic document almost always doesn’t actually completely delete the document forever within your smartphone. Believe it or not papers that have been wiped from hard drives are still there in some form, and even novice hackers have the knowledge and abilities to recover them. You cannot be sure that there is complete destruction after deleting it from your device. However, there is zero probability that a document you would have taken from your briefcase and shredded with a micro-cut shredder will ever be recovered and reassembled – but this is impracticable in today’s world.  

Taking the right step to protect your mobile

Since mobile devices have improved in functionality over time, many workers now use them to complete jobs that were previously only possible in an office cubicle or workstation. This indicates that employees are using the company’s systems and data while they are on the go, which would make any IT administrator nervous. You need to take into account – what additional programmes are installed on the device? What networks do the staff members use to access the system? What happens if someone steals the device and uses it to access the organisation’s data? This is where a mobile device management system comes into play. 

A mobile device management system (MDM/UEM) enables you to control, keep a close eye on, and safeguard the mobile devices used by the staff members of your company. The administrator can utilise this system to watch what the devices are being used for and to monitor any potentially dangerous applications. Implementing this type of system is a great start to handling all mobile devices in your work processes and ensuring that all devices are utilising the latest versions of all software.

An issue of growing importance in relation to protecting your device from coming under attack is by using a secure communications system. As discussed early, there are many privacy and security issues involved in the use of consumer messaging systems. These are simply not suitable for business use where highly sensitive information is being discussed and stored. Mobile communications present major privacy challenges within policing. With a consistent increase in reported hacking activities, staff must ensure that they vigilantly put the necessary measures in place to protect their communications from interception and cyber-attacks. If you fear a hack by malign actors who may be motivated by political, economic, personal, or ethical reasons, then it is essential to protect the communications of your organisation from attack and exploitation.

With the rise in popularity of smartphones comes a greater requirement for security against obtrusive viruses and spyware. To protect the security of your phone and your personal information, precautions must be taken, whether to ward off viruses or other types of external infiltration. You can successfully defend your mobile device from attacks if you use it wisely. By remaining vigilant, you can enjoy a virus-free mobile phone in 2022. Take control of your 21st century briefcase – before it’s too late. 

If you require any additional assistance, please contact our experts for more information on this subject at info@saltcommunications.com or to sign up for a free trial of Salt Communications or to speak with a member of the Salt Communications team.

About Salt Communications 

Salt Communications is a multi-award winning cyber security company providing a fully enterprise-managed software solution giving absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. Salt Communications offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for Organisations who value their privacy, by giving them complete control and secure communications, to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe. Salt Communications is headquartered in Belfast, N. Ireland, for more information visit Salt Communications.

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