A man stands outside of a storefront and looks down at the smartphone in his hands. The man has dark hair and a dark beard, and he wears a khaki apron over a blue collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up. To the right of him is a two-tiered shelving set holding several potted plants.
Security policies for employee cell phones should include guidance on creating secure passwords, updating device software, and backing up important data. — Getty Images/Prostock-Studio

Mobile devices create a more connected world and allow employees to work from anywhere. But this freedom comes with a greater risk of cyberattacks, so companies must prioritize mobile security. Here are seven ways you can keep employee cell phones secure.

[Read more: How to Protect Your Business From Being Hacked]

Train employees on device safety

You need to issue a mobile security policy, regardless of whether you issue company phones or employees use their own devices. Provide clear guidelines around what’s considered acceptable behavior and train your employees on device safety and taking security seriously.

Employees need to understand that it’s their job to protect their devices, not just the IT department’s. However, it’s not enough to have this conversation once — you need to continue communicating with your employees about using their devices safely.

Use antivirus software

All mobile phones have safeguards to protect you, but antivirus software provides an added layer of protection. In particular, Android devices run on open-source code and are considerably less secure than iOS devices.

That’s why having your employees install antivirus software on their phones is a good idea. Antivirus software ensures safe web browsing and protects devices from malware and ransomware attacks. And many of these programs will monitor employee text messages and call logs for suspicious activity.

[Read more: How to Protect Employee Privacy]

Back up the devices regularly

Your employees should back up their devices regularly the same way they would back up a laptop or PC. Regularly backing up their mobile devices ensures they can always recover any lost data. And cloud-based storage solutions make backing up devices easier than ever.

Safeguard passwords

In the United States, the average email address is associated with 130 accounts, yet 44% of all consumers change their passwords once a year or less. And many people reuse passwords despite the well-known risks.

You need to issue a mobile security policy, regardless of whether you issue company phones or employees use their own devices.

Encourage employees to safeguard their passwords with the following actions:

  • Changing their passwords every 90 days.
  • Choosing a strong password that’s at least eight characters long and contains a mix of numbers, symbols, and upper- and lowercase letters.
  • Enabling two-factor authentication.

[Read more: What to Do If Your Business Is Hacked]

Use a VPN

A virtual private network (VPN) lets you establish a secure connection between a mobile device and the company network. It protects all communication through an open Wi-Fi network by masking your IP address and encrypting all personal data.

A VPN gives remote workers greater flexibility while ensuring company data remains secure. And a VPN will continue to safeguard data when the internet is unstable, making it ideal for employees who regularly travel for work.

Require technical updates

How many times have you put off installing a software update on your phone? Software updates are annoying, but they improve a device’s functionality and user experience. And most importantly, they keep devices safe from cybercriminals and viruses.

Cybercriminals can access devices that haven’t been updated with the latest security features. So if your phone hasn’t been updated recently, your privacy and security settings are at greater risk of being compromised.

In addition, viruses on your phone can be transferred to your laptop and other devices. To reduce system vulnerabilities, talk to employees about software updates and encourage them to update their phones regularly.

Consider issuing company phones

The biggest security threats come from employees using their personal cell phones for work. There’s no way for you to enforce any of these security protocols unless you’re providing company-issued mobile devices.

By issuing work phones, you can put all of your employees on the same software and hardware, and you can monitor how employees are using their cell phones. The biggest disadvantage is the cost, but you may be able to secure a discount if you add multiple lines to one plan.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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