Mobile Security Tips for CUs

Five ways to keep information safe on mobile devices.

March 30, 2011
KEYWORDS mobile , security
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The financial industry has always been on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to protecting sensitive information. However, with work forces becoming more mobile, threats to that information are increasing.

According to a recent Symantec mobile security survey, 68% of survey respondents ranked loss or theft as their No. 1 mobile device security concern, while 56% said mobile malware is their No. 2 concern.

These tips from Symantec will help credit unions protect information on mobile devices:

1. Unblur the lines

Today, employees want to use whatever device they choose, and they want to have access to both their corporate and personal e-mail.

All organizations, including credit unions, are finding that the benefits of allowing employees to use the devices that make them the most productive are too great to ignore.

It’s no longer enough to erect high walls around networks. Organizations must set policies to help employees protect both their information and their devices.

Such policies should cover password enforcement—allowing only devices with encryption capabilities to connect to the infrastructure—and restricting any jail-broken or rooted devices from connecting to the network.

2. Click with caution

Just like on stationary PCs, social networking on mobile devices must be conducted with care and caution. Don’t open unidentified links, chat with unknown people or visit unfamiliar sites.

It doesn’t take much for a user to be tricked into compromising a device and the information on it. All of the same best practices applied to social networking on PCs should be applied to network-connected mobile devices.

These best practices include:

  • Check your privacy settings regularly to make sure your account and information is as secure as you think it is.
  • Don’t answer “yes” when prompted to save your password to a computer. Instead, rely on a strong password committed to memory or stored in a dependable password management program.
  • Don’t accept “friend” or “follower” requests from people you don’t know.
  • Don’t click on links in messages that seem strange or out of character, even if they’re from a known “friend.”

A common method used by attackers is to pose as a friend and send messages to users asking something like, “Is this you in this funny video?”

In reality, however, there’s no video, and when users try to open the “video” file, they’re infected with malware.

  • Never post social networking messages indicating your location, especially if you’re away from home.

In a similar vein, don’t post messages indicating you’ll be away from home on a specific date or time, such as being on vacation.

3. Encrypt and secure data

Across the board, information is a small business’s most valuable asset, and financial information is the most sensitive. Take steps to secure such data on mobile devices from unauthorized users and hackers.

Encryption is one of the best ways to go about this. Mobile security software is also a must for a comprehensive security approach.

4. Know what to do if a device is lost or stolen

In the case of a loss or theft, employees and management should know what to do next. Processes to deactivate the device and protect its information from intrusion should be in place.

Products are available for the automation of such processes, allowing smaller institutions to breathe easier after such incidents.

5. Change with the landscape

The mobile and security landscapes are always changing. New developments in technology, software, and security are always emerging, and hackers are changing, too.

One of the best ways for small institutions to stay safe and effective is to adapt with the improvements that become available. Not doing so would be the equivalent of choosing to be vulnerable.

Credit unions should do whatever they can within their budgets to regularly update their devices and software.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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