Mobile Employees Should Be Aware Of Mobile Threats

Threats targeting mobile devices are growing as the holidays get under way. Time to make sure your employees have their mobile guards up.
Threats targeting mobile devices are growing as the holidays get under way. Time to make sure your employees have their mobile guards up.An FBI warning of new mobile device attacks offers a good opportunity to bring your employees up-to-speed on mobile security, mobile precautions and general mobile wariness.

The FBI warning deals with smishing (aka vishing) -- a scam using text messages or robot calls to persuade recipients to share confidential information.

Make sure your mobile employees -- and, indeed, any employee who might have business information stored on a personal mobile device -- understand that the proper response to this sort of malicious outreach is the same as to phishing and other e-mails: no response at all. Unsolicited messages, unfamiliar senders, any message or call that seems even the slightest bit out of the ordinary should be discarded immediately.

Commonsense and wariness need to be raised at any holiday-themed message, too -- particularly those promising Big Sales, cute videos or seasonal merriment.

But smishing, vishing and holiday scams are only one aspect of the mobile risks the holidays bring.

The rush and crush of brick-and-mortar shopping, holiday travel and crowded parties are prime opportunities to lose a mobile device, or have it stolen, either of which can put business information at risk.

In addition to insisting that any device holding company information be encrypted, it's a good idea to review basics of physical devices security with mobile employees.

That physical security needs to include more than locking the phone, handheld device or notebook in the car or eve the trunk: a bad idea all year round, it's a bit worse an idea during the shopping season, when crooks looking for unattended presents will be just as happy to grab an employee's Android phone, iPad or Netbook.

Finally, make sure employees are attending to their devices' security updates and patches promptly.

Apple's iOS 4.2, for one example, deals with 40 security problems.

Users of Android phones should keep an eye out for Google's promised patch of a vulnerability that affects all versions of the operating system.

Whatever variety of phone -- or notebook, handheld, tablet or other device -- employees carry, its operating system and security tools should be absolutely up to date before it leaves the office again.

Mobile devices, and the employees who carry and use them require an extra bit of awareness and caution throughout the year, and a bit more than that during the hectic holidays.