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A Value Add to Employee Security Education: Mobile Apps

While we have been talking about the very important message of educating employees about data security, I find that giving employees tips about their personal data security keeps them interested and engaged during education sessions. It is surprising how little people in general, and employees specifically, know about their personal devices and the security of such devices.

Since most companies allow employees to use personal devices for business purposes with a bring-your-own-device program, employees’ personal devices are important to those businesses.

Besides pointing out the privacy settings on personal phones, I find that data privacy and security risks with mobile apps is something that few people (except me and the IT folks) know much about. People tend to download the coolest app, or the most convenient, and click “I agree” all the way through the download.

In addition to the obvious points about knowing what data the mobile app is requesting access to, like your microphone, camera, location, etc., and that when you allow access it is constantly feeding data while you are at work and at home, it is also important to mention data security vulnerabilities that come with mobile apps.

According to a new report by Positive Technologies entitled “Vulnerabilities and threats in mobile applications, 2019” and reported by TechRepublic, “76% of mobile apps have flaws allowing hackers to steal passwords, money and texts.” According to TechRepublic, “Insecure data storage is the most common vulnerability found in mobile apps across both [Android and iOS] platforms….In some cases, insecure data storage can allow hackers to steal passwords, financial information, personal data, and correspondence.”

Further, the report found that 89 percent of the vulnerabilities could be exploited by malware.

This report provides additional support to the idea that providing employees with tips on how to secure their data when downloading mobile apps is crucial, including avoiding any apps that request access to phone functions or data, clicking on links sent in chat apps, downloading apps from a third-party app store, or apps that request data that are not necessary in order to provide the services. If an employee downloads an app that requests access to the microphone, that microphone is presumably on all the time, including when that employee is at work discussing the employer’s confidential and proprietary information.

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About this Author

Linn F. Freedman, Robinson Cole Law Firm, Cybersecurity and Litigation Law Attorney, Providence
Partner

Linn Freedman practices in data privacy and security law, cybersecurity, and complex litigation. She provides guidance on data privacy and cybersecurity compliance to a full range of public and private clients across all industries, such as construction, education, health care, insurance, manufacturing, real estate, utilities and critical infrastructure, marine, and charitable organizations. Linn is a member of the firm's Business Litigation Group and chairs its Data Privacy + Cybersecurity Team. She is also a member of the Financial Services Cyber-Compliance Team (CyFi ...

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