The vast majority of professionals in the US, and in most parts of the world today, carry mobile phones. It’s hard to survive in the business world without them. The research firm Gartner recently found that that 80% of employees bring their personal devices to work and more than half are using those personal devices exclusively.
It’s natural for these workers to use their phones automatically to make contacts, close deals, answer questions, etc., even if there is no explicit BYOD policy at their employer. It’s simply a matter of necessity in a competitive world. When workers can support customers and build relationships from anywhere, it helps the business, it helps the employee and it improves the customer experience (CX).
That’s turning out to be a huge problem.
If your employees are using their private phones for business purposes, it’s up to you as a responsible business owner to find a way to mask their private number behind a business line. They need to be alerted to the security dangers of giving out their private numbers for the health of your business and the employee’s own safety.
Phone numbers as personal identifiers
The LA Times explained, “Phone numbers have become the keys to unlocking an array of personal information. If you have called your credit-card company and been greeted by an automated message stating it recognized your phone number and then spewed your account balance and available credit without requiring you to speak with a person, you have experienced firsthand your 10 digits being used as an identifier, like a Social Security number.”
If you employees lose or sell their phones, the data can be wiped remotely but that doesn’t necessarily protect them. Security firm Avast was able to recover lost data on resold and supposedly wiped phones, including photos, contacts and user identification.
When employee’s get a new number, the old number is recycled. Whoever gets the old number could have easy access to vital info like lab results, private text messages and password resets.
The scope and growth of the risk
USA Today detailed the scope and growth of this very real problem, pointing out that 161,000 consumers had mobile phone accounts taken over in the past year, which is double the rate of the year before.
Unlike social security numbers and credit card info, there are no regulations mandating that companies keep phone numbers private.
Mobile phones are clearly not going away, even if they morph into smartwatches or app-enabled glasses. Personal communicators are woven into every aspect of our lives. The speed of society and the critical nature of coordination require us to be reachable wherever we go.
The good news is that it is perfectly easy for employers to mask the employee’s number on business-related outgoing calls. All it takes is a mobile device management platform running on the server or a simpler solution like Spoke.
Simple outbound business call masking
For business owners, Spoke has implemented stringent security measures to protect information. These include encrypting data at rest for all databases, snapshots and backups, encrypting data when in transit to and from employee phones, encrypting our websites, rotating encryption keys and certificates on a regular basis. Spoke enforces two factor authentication for all Spoke engineers and support staff who require access to any data or system.
For employees, keeps private numbers private, making sure that calls from the business phone app go out on a dedicated company number. At the same time, Spoke partitions off business calling and guarantees that the company cannot see an employee’s private calls and app usage.
Prevention is 100x more effective than recovery. Get your own free trial of Spoke to help protect you and your employees in the BYOD world.