When you pick up your smartphone to make a phone call, you likely aren’t thinking about the multiple people that may have access to your conversation. A scary yet true fact about this day and age is that almost nothing is truly “private” anymore. Big Brother may be watching you text and converse with coworkers and loved ones alike.
As a CIO, this can be unnerving, especially if you have a BYOD policy at your insurance firm. All of your employees are walking around with their own smartphones – how do you know if they’re truly secure?
The security of operating systems
Smartphones typically have two operating systems, one of which is rarely monitored by users. This is the underlying operating system that is responsible for maintaining radio hardware. It can be easily accessed by cell phone service providers to house information such as location and Wi-Fi networks.
Often, service providers give the data from this OS to people who are willing to pay for it. Individuals or companies that have this information can then install applications onto the OS or access personal data freely.
The bottom line is that the average cell phone user’s smartphone is not secure. What can be done about this all-too-common problem?
Top secret solutions
In terms of government matters and classified information, unsecure smartphones simply can’t be used. For this reason, the Blackphone has been developed.
As CIO magazine reported, a company called Geeksphone has developed a smartphone called the Blackphone to solve security issues once and for all. It’s specifically designed to prevent third parties from accessing data on the device. Users can also choose which permissions they want to give to app developers upon downloading their software.
Similarly, aerospace and defense contractor Boeing has created a smartphone called the Boeing Black phone. This device was specifically made with government and military officials in mind. Unlike the Blackphone, little is known about Boeing’s Black phone, other than it will destroy its own data in the event that the device itself is pried open.
Both of these smartphone designs prove that we’re getting closer to developing a solution to the security problem plaguing cell phone users. However, the day when the average person is walking around with a Blackphone is still far off in the distance.
So what can you do as a CIO?
Keep it safe and secure
There are a few ways you can make sure that you have a grasp on your BYOD policy and exactly how much of your employees’ smartphone data makes it out into the open. First, consider creating a company-wide passcode that you and your colleagues can use to access a secure network. You may also want to encrypt data and place bans on specific third party apps that could potentially create a problem.
Next, make it a point to educate your employees on best practices in terms of security and smartphone usage. Let people know that they can come to you with their concerns and questions if a situation arises in the future.
Finally, devise a plan of action to use in the event of a smartphone goes missing. Knowing how you will keep data out of the wrong hands before it happens can eliminate concern.
As technology continues to evolve, it’s important for you to stay on top of security in terms of all mobile devices as the CIO of your company. These tips can help you keep critical information safe within your insurance firm now and in the future.