August 28, 2017

Cell phones are an essential business tool, and while the technology lets you keep in touch 24/7 from nearly any location, there are some serious security issues.

As the phones, and telecom-capable personal digital assistants (PDAs), have become increasingly smaller, they have become easier to lose and steal. Moreover, with their growing capabilities for storing personal and business information they are becoming more desirable for thieves and play an increasing role in identity theft.

And it’s not just the cell phone user who loses out. Businesses also suffer.

Employees find themselves without their business contacts and possibly more critical and sensitive corporate information stored on the devices. This can be even more devastating if an employee’s PDA is stolen because the devices can sometimes connect to a company’s network, compromising vast amounts of data. In addition, some employees now use camera cell phones to take photographs in the course of business.

While cell phone makers are taking steps to solve the problem (see right-hand box), there are security precautions your company can take.

For example, install security features on phones that enable an alarm to be activated if the devices are lost or stolen. You can also set the phones up to show a permanent text in the display area (for example, a name and office phone number).

Stress the importance to staff members of keeping devices and data safe. Bring in a security expert to explain the nuts and bolts of protecting your assets – and reward employees for compliance when possible.

Among the other steps phone users can take to help prevent theft and recover stolen phones:

  • Lock the cell phone with a password.
  • Keep track of where the phone is, never leaving it unattended.
  • Read cell phone contracts carefully — some contracts provide for specific steps you must take if your cell phone is stolen.
  • Notify the police immediately so there is a written record of any theft.
  • Call the cell phone company to report the theft. Make a note of the time of the call, who you talked to and the person’s job title. This can help later if the company says the theft wasn’t reported and you have thousands of phone charges on your next bill.
  • Record the phone’s International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. This can assist the police in proving the phone was stolen.
  • Activate PIN numbers, which prevent unauthorized calls being made on your phone if it is stolen.
  • Mark the phone and the battery with some identifying, but not identity revealing, text.

© 2017