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Small businesses hone in on mobile security

  • Scott Solomon By

A data breach can be enough to close the doors on a profitable small business. The average data breach can cost a small business roughly $174 per personal account lost, according to a study published by Zurich General Insurance. Yet many small businesses have been slow to fight back. A 2013 McAfee study surveyed 1,000 small businesses and found that only nine percent were using mobile device security. The same survey found that 80 percent were not using any data protection while less than half did not secure emails or company data on employees’ personal devices.

Cyber criminals have their eyes on small businesses. In a Harris Poll Interactive Survey conducted on behalf of Bank of West researchers found that small businesses are the most common victims in fraud instances of any business size category. “Small businesses are particularly susceptible to fraud because they have fewer resources. Yet, the impact of the resulting losses is usually much greater than for larger businesses,” said Michelle DiGangi, executive vice president of small and medium enterprise banking at Bank of the West. Yet only 36 percent of small businesses have business data security policies in place.

Accelerating Mobile Security Adoption

As more security threats come to light, many small business owners are rethinking their mobility practices. SMB Group’s “Top 10 SMB Technology Trends for 2014!” report named mobility management as a top trend in small business for 2014. The report found that 67 percent of small business owners now view mobile solutions and services as “critical” to their business and that small businesses will be “looking for easy-to-deploy, cost-effective mobile device and application management platforms and solutions to reduce management headaches and get more value from their mobile investments.”

Mobile Payments and BYOD

Securing mobile point of sale (mPOS) systems and BYOD devices are two ways small businesses can significantly reduce the potential for data loss. Small businesses have embraced mPOS as a way to avoid costs associated with traditional checkout equipment and lend agility to the sales process. As the trend gains, it will become increasingly important for businesses to secure their mobile payment systems – both to secure company data and to protect consumer information, as required by the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standards (PCI DSS).

The absence of a BYOD program that outlines IT-sanctioned methods for accessing company email and other data all but invites data loss. Employees will find workarounds to access the information they need and unknowingly expose their organizations to data loss. Bring your own device is perhaps one of the trickiest trends to nail down. And small businesses are hoping that their employees and IT departments are up to the challenge. A recent IDC report showed that small business employees are increasingly likely to use personal devices at work. According to IDC research director Chris Chute, “Small businesses have seen the most growth in BYOD device uptake and have responded by implementing policies that govern how those devices are used.” BYOD policies can help small business owners protect sensitive data and limit malicious attacks against their networks.

Scott Solomon

Scott Solomon

Scott Solomon is an Atlanta native and University of Georgia graduate who has spent the past six years studying technology, though his passion for the subject has been lifelong.

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