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When we surf the web, share pictures, check our bank accounts or download apps these days, chances are we're using smartphones and tablets. But accessing the internet doesn't stop when we walk into the office. We also want to connect those same personal smartphones and tablets to our company's network. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2015, there will be more than 7.4 billion mobile connections.

Many companies are developing policies for allowing us to connect our new gadgets to the network in order to check work email, share work documents and get key customer information. These are some of the security issues we will be talking about at the RSA Conference, which begins today in San Francisco.


Here's the thing. As great as these devices are for getting work done, they're easy to lose and they're also magnets for hackers and thieves. Today's smart devices are packed with loads of highly personal and proprietary company data. And yet, the social norms that govern their use are very different than a laptop. We never hand our kids our corporate laptops, but our corporate-enabled iPads and Androids are in their hands all the time. Still, when you lose a smartphone today, you're losing access to your data, just like you would if you lost a laptop.

What can you do about it? Consider these tips:

  • - Set an instant-on password. That seems obvious, but look around you at the airport. How many people simply pick up their devices and start swiping away?
  • - You should also consider installing an anti-virus, anti-malware application.
  • - Back up the information that resides on the device somewhere else, so if you lose it, the information is not lost.
  • - Make sure your company provides you with the technology to securely access and store corporate information. If the device is stolen, the organization needs to be able to remotely "wipe it clean" of all information.
  • - Get smart about apps. Think twice about using an app that stores your credentials on the phone, automatically giving access to anyone who steals it or picks up your device after you lost it. Only use apps from places you trust because some apps are built to spring malware on you.
  • - Be particularly wary of social media apps and unknown text messages. Malware can be sent via URL links and messaging.
  • And things are only going to get worse.

    Smartphones and tablets are fun and they're making it so much easier for all of us to balance our home and work lives. That's why their use is skyrocketing. But so too are the security risks. Your company needs to get ahead of these problems. But, as the person carrying this little mobile computer around on your belt or in your pocket, you also need to take a few steps to keep them -- and you -- safer.

    Working in a mobile world

    Learn more about Smarter Security here.

     

    Follow Marc van Zadelhoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@mvzadel