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The Case for Data Security in an Ever Mobile World

by | Aug 10, 2015 | IT Security

We carry our mobile devices almost everywhere, making them the perfect place to store data we need to regularly access: website logins, banking passwords, client contact details, photos and videos. Sometimes it is not the devices themselves that are the attraction, but the sensitive data they contain.

The amazing story of Matt Stopera (known as Brother Orange in China) followed his stolen iPhone to China after it was taken from a bar in New York. A year after the theft, Stopera’s phone was resold, and Matt became one of the most followed people on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Because it was originally synchronised to Apple’s iCloud, the new “owner’s” media began appearing on a new iPhone Matt had purchased. In addition Matt’s own old photos were still stored in the stolen device’s memory and easily accessed. This highlights how vulnerable data is when a device is stolen and how fragile mobile data security systems can be.

Whilst data encryption can prevent sensitive information falling in to the hands of criminals, the complexity of encryption can be off putting. The problem is that not all devices are designed to encrypt data by default. Even though Android 5.0 was to offer better security, legacy devices still lack the mandatory encryption that Apple has in place.

In addition the data Android devices store is not as easy to protect. Partly because Android is ambiguous when it comes to encryption, and partly because the Google Play store has few security checks when it comes to launching new apps. Creating the ideal place for hackers to attempt to attack users phones through free apps.

Given that Android devices account for over 80% of Smartphones, this is a huge problem that needs addressing. Custom ROMs, such as Cynanogen Mod, Oxygen OS and KratOS could be the solution. They are able to provide a number of security measures, including:

Enforced Encryption-

KratOS, and other custom ROMs, enforce password protected encryption policies on Android devices that can be applied to whole devices or specific areas of the device. This is especially useful if employees deal with business information on their own devices.

Remote Access-

The Brother Orange news story emphasises how important it is to be able to access the data on your device from elsewhere. Custom ROMs can also provide you with the ability to lock, wipe and control your stolen device, so you can always be in control of your own device.

App Security-

Custom ROMs can provide an extra layer of app security that Android devices don’t have. Allowing the set-up of a filter that will only allow secure and genuine apps onto a device, blacklisting any fraudulent apps that it finds.

As the business world becomes ever more reliant on mobile devices to store information, so mobile data security is becoming more and more important.

Some Android business users may find security in the available custom ROMs. Although, ensuring your staff are aware of the risks of downloading unverified apps and are consciously aware of the security of their devices will also help.

When it comes to the end of life for mobile devices, secure data erasure using the Blancco Mobile Edition may be the best answer.


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