How to minimize risk from lost mobile devicesA lost business phone or tablet can open your company up to a significant amount of risk. From competitors getting your proprietary information to poached clients, and even extravagant cell phone bills, as a business owner you need to make sure that these risks are all minimized. Here’s how:

Before your employees’ new phones leave the IT department, make sure your IT staff has loaded them up with some essential software. These essentials should include a disk encryption system that will keep the contents of the phone locked down and out of reach of anyone who happens to find the phone. They should also make sure to install a remote wiping program, and configure the phone to require a strong password to unlock.

Once the IT department is done setting up all the appropriate applications, you need to make sure that your employees understand the importance of mobile security. You should have a policy set up that employees who receive a company phone are familiar with and understand. This should cover things like what kind of passwords to use on mobile devices (stress that they should be no less thorough than those used on desktops), as well as the process for reporting a phone lost or stolen. Remind your employees that the sooner they report a phone as being lost or stolen, the more likely you are to either recover it or lock it down/remotely wipe it.

If a phone is actually lost or stolen, the first thing your employees should do is report it. A lot of phone recovery tools, like GPS tracking or remote wiping, require the phone to be on and in range of the wireless network to use. That means you have a limited time until either the batteries run out, or (if it was stolen) until the thieves remove the sim card, turn the phone off, or otherwise take it offline. As soon as the phone is reported lost, your IT department should lock it down using the remote control software you installed earlier. If the phone has GPS tracking, you should turn it on and immediately try to recover it, if it appears the phone was simply misplaced, or contact the police if it appears the phone was stolen.

If the phone is not recovered within the first few hours, you should have your IT team wipe the phone remotely to prevent any chance of your sensitive information falling into the wrong hands. All the contents of the phone should be backed up regularly to a secure server, so wiping a mobile device clean shouldn’t cause your company to lose any more than a few hours or a day of information.

Remember, security on mobile devices is quickly becoming as important, if not more so, than security on your desktops and corporate networks. Take the time to secure your devices before the worst happens and it’s too late.