Mobile Devices Present Workplace Risks

Examine your CU’s vulnerabilities and shore up security where needed.

September 04, 2012
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Cell phones, smart phones, tablets, personal digital assistants—just about everyone is using them to stay connected at home, on the road, and in the office.

But these mobile devices in the workplace, especially employees’ personal devices, introduce security risks to your credit union.

A little too convenient?

Relatively inexpensive, accessible, user friendly, and easy to transport, all of this convenience is risky for your business. While it’s probably not reasonable or even desirable to prohibit mobile devices at work, the security risks are significant.

They include:

Lost or stolen devices. One of the most remarkable features of mobile devices—their diminutive size—also makes them easy to steal or lose, rendering data stored on them vulnerable to theft.

Insider theft. A dishonest employee could easily connect a mobile device to a computer’s USB port to download sensitive data or transmit data via email.

This is a growing concern as clever fraudsters increasingly look to insiders as partners in crime.

Intercepted and decrypted data. Wi-Fi-enabled devices transmitting data over unsecure networks are vulnerable to Man in the Middle attacks, exposing not only the device but potentially the credit union’s network to hackers.

Viruses. Mobile devices offer fertile ground for hackers looking for broadly used technology with limited security. Acts as seemingly innocuous as downloading apps or ringtones may invite malware into the device—and potentially your credit union’s network.

Managing mobile risks

As mobile device use at work continues to explode, so does your risk. It’s important to examine your credit union’s vulnerabilities and shore up security where needed.

Here are five steps you can take to protect your credit union:

But if you permit business to be conducted on employees’ personal devices, investigate software designed especially for devices used for both purposes.

This software allows the business side of the device to be protected and provides security measures such as password protection, encryption, anti-virus protection, and remote wipe capabilities.

Even with the best security, the worst can happen. Our Cyber Risk Hub, offered at no additional cost to CUNA Mutual Group policyholders, provides the services of a data breach coach and other key resources in the event of a breach.

Check out the Cyber Risk Hub and other data breach resources at the Protection Resource Center.

KEN OTSUKA is a senior consultant for CUNA Mutual Group’s Risk Management team. Contact him at 847-612-9653.

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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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