Small business owners increasingly rely on their mobile phones for everything from emails and notes to spreadsheets and billing information, making it all the more crucial to ensure that data on those devices is protected. A lost phone or security breach could cost you time, money and customer trust.
“We need to manage our devices much more carefully than most people do,” says Alex Bratton, CEO of Lisle, Ill.-based Lextech Global Services. “A lost phone can have the same impact as stolen laptops storing critical data.” The best protection is to activate security tools on mobile devices and consistently back up any data that is on them.
With any cell phone, use a PIN or password so that no one can access it but you—and remember to always keep it locked. Use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters for greatest security, and store the password somewhere other than with your phone.
Remote security tools
Take advantage of tools to help locate your phone and lock it remotely in case you lose it. Bratton recommends mobile device-management systems for groups of phones—which give IT departments access to phone data—and Find My iPhone for iPhone users. Most smartphones offer features that will automatically erase data on them if the wrong password is entered repeatedly. Just be sure to allow for multiple tries, and be sure you’re backing up your data somewhere else.
4 tools for backing up phone data:
- Dropbox—Stamford, Conn.-based IT consultant Bud Freund suggests uploading Dropbox onto your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry. That will enable you to view Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and attachments. Dropbox instantly saves files to computers, phones and the Dropbox website, minimizing the possibility of data loss.
- MobileMe—Mike Scanlin, CEO of Los Altos, Calif.-based Born To Sell, a service for options traders, recommends Apple’s cloud-based Mobile Me service for iPhone users. “If I lose the phone, I still have all my data in the cloud,” Scanlin says. “All my email, contacts, calendar and bookmarks are always backed up for both my phone and laptop.”
- My Timesheet—If you take your timesheets on the road, My Timesheet allows you to create timesheets on your iPhone and submit them to your payroll or accounting department by email.
- Evernote—Bratton uses Evernote to record and access meeting notes from anywhere on his mobile phone. Whereas MobileMe enables users to distribute large files, Bratton says Evernote is handy for note-taking. The program stores content in a single app across platforms and devices—ensuring that sensitive company information will be available to you even if your phone is not.