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How to prevent spyware on mobile devices

Security expert Michael Cobb offers suggestions to prevent spyware from infiltrating mobile devices.

What steps should the IT department take to prevent spyware on mobile devices?

Corporations need to look at some form of mobile device management product. These deliver over-the-air distribution of applications, data and configuration settings for a wide range of mobile devices. These tools make it a lot easier for administrators to keep devices configured securely and free of spyware. Another approach is to create an enterprise app store. This enables employees to get apps from one location. Administrators can fully risk-assess the apps they make available in the store. That's a great way to prevent spyware from getting on bring-your-own devices.

Also, it's important to look at mobile devices that offer container or workspace technologies that provide a dual persona on the device. Mobile vendors like Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung already offer this type of workspace separation in their products. This reduces the chance of spyware being installed that can actually access enterprise data, because the users can keep their personal apps; they're well separated and sandboxed away from the enterprise apps and the enterprise data.

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What is your top defense against spyware on mobile devices?
Protecting smartphones and tablet devices is more important than ever as more and more public WiFi spaces are available. In order to keep them protected one of the best defenses is using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Many smartphones come with a built in VPN that can be turned on with a click or swipe, while others require getting the needed VPN app. The VPN, once set up, prevents hackers from accessing your valuable information as the VPN is a solitary network that is available only through your firewall and passwords. Using a VPN for smartphones and tablets is recommended.
I agree that a VPN is necessary. You can no longer grab a signal - even in your hotel room - and be assured that people aren't sniffing your data and credentials. It's a paranoid approach, but with the value of data and access going through the roof, you need to be sure your tunnel to your systems is secure as can be.