Free Mobile Business Apps? Evaluate Them First

 In Blog, Managed IT Service Providers, Managed IT Services, Managed Network Services, Managed Service Provider, Managed Services, Tech Guides

There are over 270 million smartphone users in the United States. Of those that work in an office, over 80% use their personal devices for work. Additionally, half of all firms provide support for employee devices that are brought into the office. Finding an employee working from a tablet or smartphone is the new normal of a modern office. But what happens when the free mobile business apps on one of these devices puts your network security at risk?

Free Mobile Business Apps are Major Hacking Targets

A recent article from CPOMagazine shared some pretty alarming statistics:

  • 71% of fraud transactions come from mobile apps last year
  • America leads in mobile malware, with 24.7% of all occurrences happening in the United States
  • 54% of malicious apps were categorized as “tools and lifestyle” apps
  • A mobile app security threat has compromised 1 out of every 36 devices

Perhaps even more shocking, a recent article by Appknox notes that 14 of the 20 top iOS financial apps and 19 of the 20 top Android financial apps were hacked. 

Mobile apps are primary hacking targets because people tend to trust them easily. They provide a useful service or convenience, often for free, and they allow us to do things like bank or send documents remotely. This holds an obvious appeal for those who work outside of the office or need access to critical business resources while on the road. 

Unfortunately, they also put the user’s device, the customer’s information, trade secrets, and the office’s network at risk. 

Once a hacker infiltrates the device through the app, they can:

  • Gain access to your IP and network, with the intent to inject further malware, DDoS your website, or establish a spoof network that tricks your employees into connecting
  • Log your keystrokes to steal usernames and passwords
  • Intercept documents, data, and information that is sent back and forth
  • Steal business assets, intellectual property, and customer data that is stored on the device

If you allow external devices in your office building, amping up your cybersecurity is a necessity for the good of your network, your business, your employees, and your customers. 

Balancing Security and Benefits

Eliminating free mobile business apps from your workplace isn’t the solution. They bring too much to the table to completely write them off. Instead, you should approach your mobile network policies with the same keen eye that you give your in-office network policies. 

Here are a few simple steps to get started:

  1. Your first line of defense is a strong password. Encourage your employees to use a passcode that goes beyond the 4-digit requirement. A phrase, random jumble of letters and numbers, or any form of multifactor authentication is far more secure.
  2. Make a clear policy regarding what apps can be accessed on your network. You can block some using network filters. For all others, it may be easier to simply provide a list of “approved” apps, with additions made as they become relevant. 
  3. If your company owns the device, install an app that allows you to wipe the device remotely. As soon as it’s reported missing, reset to factory settings. This ensures that passcodes, customer data, and network information won’t be accessible to the person who has obtained the device. 
  4. Ask your cybersecurity provider for their help. Often, mobile security is neglected because we use our phones for everything. From reading emails to opening files, it’s natural to turn to our smartphones and tablets first, without much thought for the consequences. An expert can help you and your business hone in on the most important factors of mobile security, allowing your business to thrive in the digital age.
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