AS MORE businesses embrace mobile technology, experts warn that safeguards are needed to prevent data theft in the event a device is lost.

It’S a scenario that’s an instant stomach turner. You reach into your pocket or bag to grab your smartphone and it’s not there.

Your mind quickly races through possible options for a fast find. But the reality is the phone is sitting on the back seat of a longgone taxi, or worse, you have no idea where you may have lost it.

While connecting iPhones, iPads and slate personal computers to office networks clearly provides the benefit of instant access to emails and company data, information technology experts warn that businesses should address security risks the technology presents before it’s too late.

IT security expert James Milne (pictured) says businesses should not under-estimate the headaches that can be caused if an executive misplaces a mobile device carrying corporate information.

“Mobile devices carry virtual private network information and other cached credentials, which may give an unknown user access to an office network,” says the Myriad Technologies chief technology officer.

“There was a case in the US where someone misplaced a prototype iPhone4 and a lot of very private, internally sensitive information was leaked to the public and widely publicised.”

Milne describes the so-called bring your own device (BYOD) policy as a “double-edged sword” and recommends implementing stringent safety measures to prevent intellectual property loss.

“BYOD policies should shift security requirements from being purely a user burden to an organisational duty of care,” he says.

“When an executive has lost corporate data cached on a BYOD, there should be a procedure to contact the office IT team or technical support to erase the device remotely, allowing information to be deleted and restored to factory default.

“This may make it convenient for thieves, who know they will have a factory reset system to work with, but the economic loss of corporate information falling into the wrong hands is far greater than the device itself.”

Milne believes mobile data security will become increasingly important, especially as faster and more convenient mobile devices enter the market. New operating systems will offer faster boot-up times and better memory utilisation.

“This is starting to spawn a truly paperless office. The mobility creates potential to carry entire desktops into the field, making it easier for construction, mine or warehouse workers to do inventory and incident reports as they happen,” he says.

Milne recommends using solid-state drives (SSD) instead of conventional serial AT attachment (SATA) drives.

“SSDs offer phenomenal performance. There are no spinning parts and there is less chance of failure and power consumption. I increased my laptop battery life from five to eight hours,” he says.

“SSDs are more expensive than SATA drives, but the market has reached a turning point where there are more options and prices are cheaper.”

Milne recently celebrated receiving his fourth Microsoft Most Valued Professional Award since 2009. The coveted title recognises his community work in organising annual SharePoint conferences and SharePoint Saturday workshops.

“The title also values my evangelism about talking to people and getting them excited about the technology,” he says.

Winners receive access to the Microsoft product development team in the US city of Redmond, where they have technical previews of new software and invitations to attend Microsoft global summits and open days.

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