With the increasing sophistication of mobile technology, losing or failing to erase data from an old device can have serious consequences, explains Julie Pickersgill, operations director for data destruction expert Advanced Digital Dynamics.
With 328 million people worldwide predicted to be using a smartphone by the end of 2017 – and with almost 50% of all email now accessed via a mobile device rather than a computer – it’s important that employers take measures to avoid data security risks.
The biggest mistake we make is that we look upon smart phones simply as a telephone when in fact they are small computers and should be handled as such.
Many people don’t realise quite how much data is stored on a mobile device, and that just running the factory reset doesn’t erase the data from the Secure Digital (SD) cards.
Data can only be destroyed fully by using specialist software approved by the Government’s own information security arm. It’s not simply a question of deleting all your contacts and text messages as accounts that are set up for synchronisation and websites you’ve visited will leave a digital footprint.
At ADD we use military grade software to wipe data from all hardware, including phones and tablets.
We advise that companies who provide staff with mobile devices for business use implement a remote working policy which includes information on the acceptable use of the device.
Below are some simple steps that employers and staff can take to minimise the risks of mobile security breaches:
- Use the facility on phones and tablets to set a security password. However, don’t use the same password for everything – and put a password on the SIM, not just on the device itself
- Back up your data regularly, so that if you do lose your mobile device, you haven’t lost all your data
- Be aware of how much information can be gleaned from just plugging a smartphone into a PC – everything from web addresses to text message conversations and tweets are saved
- Don’t forget there are different places on a mobile device to save and therefore to destroy data. You may use an SD card for your media, but you may also unwittingly save data to the internal memory as well – both will need checking to ensure data is removed
- Erasing images: many mobile devices use a folder called DCIM for photos. And if you use both the camera app and a third party app there may be a separate folder for this 3rd party app – ensure that images are removed from both
- Run the factory reset on the phone to erase everything on your phone, but remember to also clear the SD card. For ‘belt and braces’ security then invest in specialist wiping software to ensure that no data can be retrieved
- Ensure you transfer any data you wish to keep onto a PC or other device