Five Tips for Managing Mobile Devices on your Small Business’s Network

As the business world shifts increasingly toward mobile devices for employees, small businesses are faced with a new challenged. With little to no I.T. support at many small businesses, owners are often left to either contract support out or try to do it themselves.

But supporting mobile devices requires more than simply showing users how to do various functions. With devices that will be largely outside of the office, the security risk increases dramatically. AT&T recognized the need for increased technical support options for small business and is meeting the need with its new suite of Mobile Device Management services.

” Coming at a time when at least four in 10 employees use smartphones to work away from the office, it is more important than ever for small businesses to have a flexible, cloud-based solution to manage their devices,” AT&T states.  “AT&T Mobile Device Management solutions are now available to small businesses with as few as 20 employees.”

Features included in AT&T’s services include lost device detection, remote setting configuration, and app distribution capabilities that enable business owners to push work apps to all their employees. This service can take the guessing game out of managing mobile devices.

For small businesses who choose to go it alone, here are five tips to help keep your corporate network secure.

  • Establish clear written policies and provide to all employees. These policies will not only encourage your workers to practice responsible device use but will also help safeguard you from liability if one of your employees does something damaging. These policies should stress that work devices are to be used for work purposes only and no personal apps or files should be placed on the device. You may also want to outline a policy for personal phone calls, texts, and e-mails sent through the device. Require employees to sign off on these policies before issuing a device.
  • Keep a detailed inventory of all devices. Once they leave your sight, you won’t be able to easily get to them for information like serial numbers, model numbers, and SIM card IDs. Keep a spreadsheet that logs each device and the assigned employee. If a device is lost or needs to be managed on your network, you’ll always be able to determine which device is which using that spreadsheet.
  • Set up lockscreens on all devices. If possible, take away the user’s ability to remove this feature. Employees should be trained on the importance of using complex passwords for all mobile devices that access your servers.
  • Specify a disposal policy. When a device reaches the end of its life, it’s important to ensure all data is safely wiped before sending it off to be recycled or resold. Microsoft Exchange offers a service that allows a device to be wiped remotely, which can be handy if a terminated employee doesn’t return the device. This can also help if the device is ever stolen or lost. Instructions on performing this remote wipe are available here. e-Cycle also provides a wiping service.
  • Install encryption and antivirus software. Yes, these capabilities are available for smartphones and tablets. With an increasing number of malware attacks being directed toward mobile devices, it’s more important than ever that every device on your network be fully protected.

Mobile devices will likely eventually comprise the bulk of your business’s devices, if they don’t already. Now is the time to start learning to give smartphones and tablets the same precautions you’ve given your PCs and laptops over the years.

avatar

About Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.