The basics of tablet security for field sales reps

Posted in Apps and mobile devices.

There are risks involved with everything. Many businesses see tablets as particularly risky because of their mobility as well as the weakness of the built-in security features. These two factors, among others, can lead to businesses shying away from allowing the use of mobile devices.

However, if a business implements some basic guidelines from the beginning, even before handing over the tablets for everyday use or displaying a product catalogue, the presumed risks are significantly minimized and they can reap the benefits that mobile devices can provide.

Device lock

Start at the very beginning by employing the native authentication measures of the devices. This refers to the use of PINs, passwords, patterns and fingerprint recognition. No business tablet should be left unlocked at any point, no matter whether the sales rep is in the office or out on the road. Many people see “locks” on a device as a nuisance but they are necessary regardless. If possible, every type of device lock should be employed simultaneously. Any PIN, password or pattern used for a particular device should only be known to the person using it and not shared with fellow employees or anyone else.

Anti-theft procedures

Many modern devices have the option of being remotely locked or the data wiped should the tablet go missing or be stolen. This is also helpful in cases where former employees must be denied access to sensitive information once they have left the company. Ensure that all employees are aware of your policies. For example, should personal data be stored on the tablet alongside company information, they need to back up information regularly and give consent for data wiping to occur should it be needed. Also, make sure your device’s auto-lock feature is turned on, and set it for between one and five minutes.

Malware protection

Very few tablets came with on-board anti-virus, anti-spam, intrusion detection or firewall programs. Many people believe that it is fine to only rely on the protective measures of app stores or corporate mail servers, but these are not sufficient for protection. There are various verified apps available that protect against viruses. Some of these include Avast Mobile Security and Antivirus, AVG AntiVirus Security, and Norton Mobile Security and Antivirus. Features vary from app to app so choose the one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your device’s operating system. Remember to make use of the scans these apps provide on a regular basis to see if any infections have sneaked in. Every two weeks is a good time frame to scan for these or set it to scan your device automatically.

App vetting

Vetting apps mean that you either have a list of pre-approved apps that sales reps are allowed to install on the tablet (such as Gmail or Dropbox) or you need the company’s permission to install any new apps. If you have a relatively small team this is quite easy to do but the more devices are floating around, the less you are able to keep track. Therefore, it is vital for your IT department to explain what’s allowed and what not when they issue each staff member with a device. Also, when downloading apps make use of the official app store (such as the Google Play store) to avoid any nasty surprises through unauthorized sites.

Education

As many an IT employee will tell you, a breach in security is often not the technology’s fault but that of the person behind the screen. Thus, the most effective way to ensure great tablet security all around is to educate your employees. Apart from telling them why it needs to be done, also educate them on what can be done, how to do it, and what to look out for when it comes to mobile security. This way you save yourself from having to look over sales reps’ shoulders all the time.

Furthermore, it is also vital to have clear guidelines written out and displayed, or stored somewhere online (as long as it is accessible to all employees). If possible, supply sales reps with an IT helpline in case of emergencies when they suspect a breach in security even though something like this might not be possible in a small business.