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Mobile Security Starts … On the Road?

Two articles to have crossed my desk in the past week have presented strident reminders that as great as it is to be able to create and share content from one’s smart device, it is an exercise that is fraught with risk unless certain technology loopholes are somehow closed.

Specifically, Cathy Brode wrote in DOCUMENT about the lack of encryption or metadata removal on mobile devices used to send email. And Robert Sheldon penned a reminder on searchconsumerization .com that the first connection when transmitting data and voice over cellular network involves the use of a carrier network that is beyond the reach of IT.

Though neither of these issues should be news to anyone who plays in the mobile arena, we know from practical experience that if things can be done, they will be done without a second thought toward what may really be happening under the covers. Even where attention is being paid, however, one enormous pothole continues to gape before us, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the underlying technology.

No; what I’m talking about is the human propensity to talk about anything and everything precisely when they feel compelled to talk about it. This can be absolutely fabulous in the proper settings — a fact to which any psychotherapist will readily attest — but it can be devastating in the wrong places at the wrong times.

Consider all the people on their cell phones in the corridors at conferences like AIIM’s recently completed event in San Francisco. How many of them do you suppose are talking about sensitive negotiations or confidential financial reports in an effort to keep critical work flowing while they are on the road? This isn’t a bad thing on its face, but it does represent an alarming lack of forethought since any innocent passerby — or a more sinister competitive spy — could sit down at any time and start taking notes about things that he or she really has no business knowing about.

This is not a new phenomenon, by the way: back in 1982, a trade journalist colleague of mine on a sailboat on Long Island Sound listened to an executive from Bic (the pen and razor people) use his car phone (a big deal back then) to discuss the particulars of an acquisition-in-progress while he drove from midtown Manhattan to his office in Milford, Connecticut. And another co-worker once tripped over a satellite-delivered internal meeting of Federal Express employees while setting up his dish-based TV. So this an old story, but it is being made new because of how ubiquitous mobile devices now are.

The view from Weissman’s World, therefore, is that closing the security loopholes is important, for sure. But you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in software and hundreds of hours in configuration if you can simply convince your people to keep their mouths shut in places where others might have their ears open.

Want to learn more about the latest best practices in information management? Ask about my new prep course for AIIM’s new Certified Information Professional designation or my other training initiatives!

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