November 2020 / Reading Time: 5 minutes

Nowadays, having a smartphone is nothing unusual. Most of the people own one. The rate of adoption grew faster in the last years, thanks to a tremendous competition between the manufactures but also between the OS platforms. While the usual suspects like Samsung and Apple continued their massive growth that started more than 10 years ago, other manufacturers entered the premium smartphones scene in the last half a decade, with China being the host for many of these new companies. Take, for example, the companies from the BBK Electronics group, like OnePlus, Oppo or Vivo. Also, Xiaomi, another China-based company, pushed the innovation throttle pedal and became one of the big dogs on the market. Since we mentioned the Asian giant country, of course we should also name Huawei, a company who, although still suffers from the US sanctions, is big enough not only to resist on the market but to continue their growth as well. Even though they lost their past glamour, LG & Motorola are still alive, trying to innovate in order to get back their seat at the big-boys table. Another tech giant, Google, after several more or less successful collaborations with other manufacturers, changed their strategy a few years ago and are now developing their own smartphone – the Pixel phone.

As we can see, there are plenty of options to choose from for anyone who wants to conduct a big part of their business from a smartphone while on the move. But are all these options secured? Well, as with all things in life, some options are better than others. Take for example Apple and Samsung. The whole world knows that Apple is a closed platform that puts a great deal on security, while Samsung’s fans are aware of Knox, the secure mobile platform which is offered to their clients who own a Galaxy smartphone. Those two options are at this moment by far the most secured options on the smartphones’ market, similar to what once was the solution presented by BlackBerry a long time ago, so long that we barely remember it.

All smartphones’ manufacturers offer different layers of protection for their customers but Samsung & Apple smartphones differentiate from the ones of their competitors through the additional unique security features, just as once BlackBerry smartphones did. This is the main reason why most of the CEOs or the decision-makers own either an iPhone or a Galaxy smartphone. And who can blame them? Conducting their business while on the move means having the best possible technological options at their disposal. Thus, it’s paramount for the data stored on their mobile devices to be protected from the fast-growing security threats of today’s digital age, threats that can easily lead to data breaches or unauthorised access to sensitive data. This is even more important nowadays, since our smartphones have become the center-point of our life, storing not only our professional affairs but also intimate details of our personal life. 

In 2014, back when the smartphone adoption was not that spread as it is now, Deloitte conducted a study regarding the security of the data stored in smartphones. I remember the conclusions of that study, indicating the use of smartphones and tablets for business purposes as the biggest risk factor in terms of information security. While far from being a shocking conclusion for anyone who was a tech aficionado, the report was useful for bringing into attention once again the importance of smartphones’ stored data security. I also remember that in the following months after the revealing of that report, I was keen on talking to my corporate clients about the measures they are taking in order to secure the business data stored on their employees’ smartphones. However, the thing I remember most vividly was the fact that, albeit being aware of the threat, most of my clients considered that it was less likely that such a thing might actually happen to them. Unlike the conclusion of Deloitte’s study, hearing that was quite shocking to me, considering that most of them already had in place a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) workplace protocol for their employees. This thing alone was enough to make me spend a significant amount of time trying to raise the awareness of my clients regarding the frequency of business data loss and the legal issues that may arise as a result of it. Many of the clients from back then are still my clients today, so it’s fair to assume that my mission was well received and appreciated. My clients are smart people who tend to listen to professional advice, so no surprise there.

The reason I wanted to revive this memory is simple. Now, we are living in a world in which smartphones have become the primary computing device for anyone avid to have a constant Internet connection at the touch of a (virtual) button.  A vast amount of these people use their smartphones not just for their personal care, but also for dealing with the daily challenges of the business they run. This means that they are constantly exposed to a data breach or data loss risk, with consequences that can heavily affect their business. Although the entrepreneurs’ awareness about this type of risk is way much higher now than it was six years ago, the threat is always present and I believe that one method to minimize it is to be remembered every now and then about the devastating potential consequences that it may have on a business, if treated superficially. 

As I am only a lawyer with a strong tech-oriented side and not a data security engineer, I don’t think that it’s my place to tell you what kind of measures you should take when it comes to the security of the data stored or created on your smartphone. Nevertheless, all you’ll have to do in order to find a bunch of professional advice is to simply google about it, as there are a lot of trustable sources out there that can assist you to strengthen the security of your smartphone. What I can do instead, is to tell you about some of the cool stuff I am using in order to keep my smartphone secure. 

First of all, I use Knox from Samsung. When Samsung first introduced Knox many years ago, I admit it wasn’t very easy for me to understand exactly its benefits for business users other than government institutions or big corporations. Soon after, this impression changed. I gave Knox a chance, eagerly reading about it, and then all of a sudden, I entered into a whole new world, where data security was not the main aspect, but the only aspect. Fast forward to the present day, after years of using both Samsung and Apple smartphones, I still haven’t found something better than Knox when it comes to smartphones data security. I am not saying that there aren’t, just that I haven’t found one that can beat its protection while also offering such a great UX and UI design. Fellow Knox users know what I’m talking about, the best thing being the possibility of having two different user interfaces inside the same smartphone, one for personal use under top level security and another for business use under several more layers especially designed by Samsung to protect your data. 

Going further, let me tell you about other tools that I use on my smartphone in order to secure the data it contains:

Secure Folder for storing important confidential documents

Proton Mail for encrypted email

Quad9 and Cloudflare as DNS for private web browsing

Secure Wi-Fi for secure web browsing on public Wi-Fi

Adobe Fill & Sign for secure signing the documents from my smartphone

LastPass and Samsung Pass for keeping safe on my smartphone all sort of accounts credentials

Microsoft Authenticator and Google Authenticator for two-step verification protocols 

There are also other tools that I use but the point here is not necessary to enumerate all of them but to raise even a bit more the awareness upon the importance of data security, while exemplifying some of the top options for achieving it. 

What different solutions have you found to protect the data stored in your smartphone? I encourage you to share your experience on smartphone data security with anyone interested in protecting their business data. At some point, you’ll make a difference for a fellow entrepreneur and, believe me, that feeling is priceless!

Thank you for your time!