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A Crash Course on Protecting Your Devices


Mobile devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops are more powerful and functional than ever, and employees use all of these platforms in the work environment. As the number of "screens" that employees use to consume and create work content increases, it creates a broader surface area that IT and security professionals need to protect and manage. Now, more than ever, the health of digital devices matters to the productivity of a company or organization. Like a healthy human body, a piece of digital equipment needs to be maintained both externally and internally to optimize its functionality.   

Physical Security

To maintain a healthy and functional digital device, users need to ensure the physical safety of the equipment. Best practices to prevent external damage include:

      Don't drink and eat near your electronic devices. This sounds simple, but everyone does it. Don't be the one that spills their soda on expensive electronics with unsaved work.  

      Clean electronic devices regularly. Studies show that our electronics are filthy, covered in dead skin cells from touching our faces and bathed in bacteria from using them with dirty hands. Wipe devices down with a damp cloth and mild antibacterial hand soap to keep them clean. Cleaning your devices also helps prevent crumbs or other debris from falling into USB ports and headphone jacks and causing damage.

      Keep electronics away from children and pets. It's not uncommon for a parent to give an iPhone to a child to keep them entertained, but it only takes a split second for that smartphone to be dropped or thrown, shattering the screen. Consider a protective case and screen protector.

Internal Security

 Internal, or cybersecurity, is another area of focus to protect your devices. Keeping the inner parts of the system and software stack running and healthy is as important, if not more so, than the exterior of the device. Internal security includes things like antivirus software, ad blockers, and other malware protection.    

As a starting point, ad blockers are a software capability, often configured as a browser extension. The software allows the removal of intrusive online advertising during a web browsing session. By design, ad blockers employ user-customized rules to filter and block content. If a bit of code matches a filter or definition, the utility will prevent it from displaying.  

Antivirus programs offer full system protection against ransomware, trojan horses, worms, and other malicious attacks. The software typically relies on a catalog of known threats and compares what it finds during a system scan to those known threats. If there is a threat match during the scan, that program is quarantined or deleted from the system. The challenge antivirus packages face is that they are only as valuable as the frequency of the updates to the catalog of virus definitions. If the record isn't up to date or the owner hasn't downloaded the most recent version to their device, it creates a vulnerability.  

While ad blockers and antivirus packages are a good start and an essential part of cybersecurity, they are not the universal solution against malware. The next layer of security includes the integration of endpoint software. This platform typically consists of security software located on a central gateway within the organization's network, along with software agents deployed on each endpoint or device. The endpoint software provides next-generation antivirus and endpoint diagnostics that give IT and security professionals an overview of the health of all the devices on the network. In this kind of environment, professionals can review reports and manage or remediate an infected device all from a single console in the security operations center (SOC).

 Proactive Measures

 On top of security software, there are things you can do to prevent the headache of a broken device or compromised defense. First, if a data breach does happen, you can rely on cyber insurance to cover your business liability involving sensitive customer information. Confidential data includes social security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, driver's license numbers, and health records.  

 Additionally, a good extended warranty or insurance policy can help cover physical damage to a device. It is essential to know what your insurance policy covers in terms of "content coverage," which helps replace or repair devices. While many policies offer some level of financial protection for your electronics, you may want to consider supplemental insurance to maximize your coverage. Consult your corporate counsel or business insurance agent to ensure you are properly covered against exposure.

 Comprehensive Device Security

 The bottom line in comprehensive security for any device is to think from the inside out. Consider security as multiple layers of protection; each ring does its part to protect the entire system, from the inner core to the outer shell. Then, warranties and insurance helps protect from the financial damage of compromised devices.

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