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Why Humans are Your Biggest Vulnerability and What You Can Do About it

The significant and evolving security risks mobile devices pose when it comes to safeguarding sensitive corporate data are forcing organizations to constantly reassess their approach to mobile security. But while technology is evolving to try to minimize the threat, the human factor remains the weakest link for organizations. 

The numbers are alarming: the World Economic Forum’s “Global Risks Report 2022” shows a staggering 95% of cybersecurity breaches stem from human error. This isn’t just a statistic – it’s a harsh reality. Take the infamous 2017 Equifax breach, where a single employee’s failure to install a security patch exposed the personal information of over 143 million people.

As we integrate more advanced technologies into our lives, the human element in cybersecurity remains a critical vulnerability. Large language models like ChatGPT and deepfakes can be incredibly powerful tools, for example, but they can also be weaponized by attackers. These sophisticated techniques can create hyper-realistic phishing attempts, emails, or even videos that could potentially bypass even the most careful user.

When assessing the human threat it is important to consider the scale of the following vulnerabilities and how susceptible your organization is to them.

Vulnerability #1:  Lack of Awareness and Training

One of the primary reasons humans are a major security vulnerability is the lack of awareness and training. Employees often underestimate the importance of mobile security and are unaware of the risks associated with using their devices for work. This lack of knowledge leads to risky behaviors, such as downloading unverified apps, connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and failing to update software regularly.

Vulnerability #2: Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering exploits our tendency to trust, and uses this to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise security. Phishing emails, fraudulent text messages, and fake apps are common tactics used by cybercriminals to exploit our innate trust and curiosity.

Vulnerability #3:  Weak Password Practices

Despite repeated warnings, weak password practices remain a common issue. Many employees use simple, easily guessable passwords or reuse the same passwords across multiple accounts. This practice makes it easier for attackers to gain access to sensitive data. Furthermore, the reluctance to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) exacerbates the problem, leaving accounts more vulnerable to unauthorized access.

Vulnerability #4:  Device Loss and Theft

When an employee loses a device, the data stored on it can easily fall into the wrong hands if the device is not adequately protected. Without proper encryption and remote wiping capabilities, the loss or theft of a mobile device can lead to severe data breaches.

Vulnerability #5:  Unauthorized Access and Usage

Employees sometimes share their devices with family members or colleagues without considering the security implications. This practice can lead to unauthorized access to corporate data and applications. Additionally, using personal devices for work purposes (BYOD) without proper security measures can expose corporate data to potential risks.

The Solution: Create a Walled Garden for Corporate Data  

Traditional security focuses on securing devices, but security can be compromised when data travels outside of the corporate network and comes to rest on mobile devices. Symmetrium creates a true zero-trust environment for your data, where no device is inherently trusted, and no data leaves the security of the corporate network. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Virtual Mobile Devices (VMDs): We transform regular mobile devices into secure extensions of your network. Imagine your phone becoming a secure window into your corporate environment.
  • Peer-to-Peer Encryption: Data stays within your network perimeter. Users access and view information through secure, encrypted streaming, eliminating the ability to download or store data on their devices.
  • No Data at Rest: Sensitive data never resides on the user’s device, significantly reducing the risk of breaches.

Separation of Personal and Work Data: Symmetrium automatically provides the complete separation between an employee’s personal data on their mobile device and work data, ensuring and maintaining their privacy.

A Seamless, Zero-Trust Approach to Mobile Security

Symmetrium integrates easily with an organization’s existing infrastructure to offer a smooth transition to a secure zero-trust environment without requiring a full technology overhaul. This is accomplished using virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that stay within the organization’s network perimeter. These use peer-to-peer encrypted streaming, enabling authorized users to securely access and view data, without transferring it to external devices. This innovative approach turns all mobile devices into secure virtual extensions of the organization’s network, ensuring compliance, security, and adherence to IT protocols.  Organizations can therefore maintain their current enterprise security protocols while protecting data and resources. 

In today’s world, data and employees are no longer confined to traditional offices. Symmetrium’s VMDs embody the true essence of zero-trust – robust security that empowers a mobile workforce while keeping data secure and safe.

Ready to secure your corporate data? Book a demo today!

 

How To Optimize Microsoft intune Using Symmetrium to Boost Security and Lower Costs

In today’s dynamic mobile cybersecurity landscape, where new threats are constantly and rapidly evolving, CISOs and security teams need to continuously focus on how best to fortify their defenses.

Organizations with existing Microsoft 365 and Azure subscriptions, often turn to Microsoft Intune to secure and manage all company-issued devices, as well as personal devices accessing work data through BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs. 

Intune enables Microsoft users to manage devices (phones, laptops, etc.) alongside other Microsoft services. Since Intune works within the Microsoft ecosystem, it can align well with an organization’s existing technology stack.

 

Managing The Cost and Complexity of Intune

While Intune offers several benefits such as device management, application management, and security policy enforcement, there are also some downsides to consider.

Cost: While Intune is part of Microsoft 365, it can be relatively expensive. The cost becomes more pronounced when scaling up the levels of protection.

Security: It is important to note that Intune provides the management layer, but implementing a defense layer requires an additional Mobile Threat Detection (MTD) solution. Microsoft’s MS Defender can fulfill this role but requires an additional payment on top of the cost of Intune.

Complexity in Setup and Management: The initial setup can be complex, while configuring conditional access, compliance settings, and application management requires a deep understanding of the platform. Intune also requires a separate setup for Android and iOS.

Limited Support for Non-Windows Devices: Although Intune supports iOS, Android, and macOS devices, its features are most comprehensive for Windows devices.

Dependency on Internet Connectivity: Being a cloud-based service, Intune requires consistent internet connectivity for management and policy enforcement.

While Microsoft Intune is a powerful tool for managing devices and protecting corporate data, it’s important for organizations to consider these potential downsides. Careful planning, clear policies, and ongoing management are key to mitigating these issues and making the most out of Intune.

 

Using Symmetrium with Intune Provides the Optimal, Cost-Effective and Efficient Mobile Security Solution

If you are considering using or currently have a subscription to Intune, to gain the full suite of security benefits you will need to pay extra money to get the full suite of protection. There’s another additional cost if you want to add Microsoft Defence. You’ll also pay extra to manage and secure WiFi connectivity. With Symmetrium you get the full capability from the get-go in one solution. You will never have to decide to add extra features and absorb the resulting additional costs.

Implementing mobile security can be daunting, resource intensive and costly. Symmetrium’s streamlined approach allows for the cost effective and efficient management of multiple devices, regardless of their brand or operating systems, from within Intune.

 

How Symmetium Optimizes Microsoft Intune

Enterprises using Intune don’t want the headache of managing additional tools and solutions. But by implementing Symmetrium they can quickly optimize the usage of Intune by treating Symmetrium just like any device in their Intune system. This means they can manage Symmetrium from within Intune to:

1) Maximize Security

Using Symmetrium in addition to Intune, instantly provides extra layers of security:

a. Web Protection — Symmetrium resides on a server within the organization network, which means organizations can uphold existing enterprise security protocols while effectively safeguarding data and resources. This enables security teams to manage the network from the server side, with no need for special tools to manage on the client/device side.

b. Malware Protection — With no data residing on mobile devices, there is no need to manage and protect the physical device.

c. Jailbreak Detection — Symmetrium can detect, analyze and block a jailbroken device before it makes a connection.

d. Network Protection — Symmetrium’s Virtual Mobile Devices (VMDs), which reside in the protection of the corporate IT infrastructure, uses the server network. The connection between the Symmetrium app and server is P2P encrypted.

e. Conditional Access — Symmetrium can easily be configured to provide conditional access. Any devices that try to connect that do not have access privileges will be instantly detected and blocked before they can make a connection. Symmetrium also provides extra conditional access, such as geolocation, device OS, and state.

2) Lower Costs

When using Symmetrium, organizations do not need a mobile threat defense (MTD) vendor, such as Microsoft Defender. This has several benefits.

– They don’t have to pay extra for security.

– MTD apps monitor threats by checking OS versions, system parameters, firmware, and device configurations. Symmetrium, however, stores all data in the cloud not on individual devices. This means it is not affected by threats at the device level.

– When an MTD detects an infected device that is integrated with Intune, the conditional access blocks email and managed apps, which affects the workflow. This scenario does not impact the usage of Symmetrium, because, unlike standard MDM and MTD solutions, the device itself holds no organizational data. So even if the device is infected with malware, the user can continue to work, because the data it accesses via Symmetrium will not be put at risk. In addition, Symmetrium validates if the hardware is jailbroken, rooted, using a custom ROM and can set the requirement for the minimum OS level.

3) Seamless Deployment and Management

Symmetrium allows Intune users to lower costs and improve security, all while using their existing settings and setup. This is because Symmetrium can be managed directly within Microsoft Intune. This means your IT team does not have to worry about using and configuring another management tool. They can use the same set of policies currently being used in Intune and simply treat Symmetrium as if they are managing a new device. It saves time and headaches as you already have a policy set up within Intune, so you can simply use it again.

They can use the same set of policies currently being used in Intune and simply treat Symmetrium as if they are managing a new device. It saves time and headaches as you already have a policy set up within Intune, so you can simply use it again.

Employee privacy is also strengthened using Symmetrium. If we compare standard devices managed by Intune, the user needs to install the agent, grant permission, install MTD, etc, directly on their device. With Symmetrium, the user only downloads the Symmetrium app to access the managed device.

Another important difference from Intune is that Symmetrium doesn’t need the client to be connected to update policy, apps, block access, etc. Whereas if you are using Intune you need an internet connection on the end-user device to get the update.

 

The Bottom Line: The Perfect Blend for Optimal Security, Cost Effectiveness and Seamless Management within InTune

To address the vulnerability of diverse endpoints and the inherent risk of exposing sensitive data outside the secure corporate network, Symmetrium’s unique approach transforms all mobile devices into secure virtual extensions of an organization’s network. And when blended with Microsoft Intune, it offers the optimal secure environment for the most cost-effective and resource-efficient solution for mobile security. So, when looking to balance the optimum solution in mobile security using Intune with the minimum TCO, Symmetrium provides the perfect match.

Discover how easy it is to lower the costs of your Intune mobile data protection while adding ease-of use to optimize your network security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

2023: The Year of Mobile Data Protection

The full-time return to office work has been declared dead. While this most likely has pleased most employees, Chief Security Officers (CSOs) and their teams will be less than ecstatic. They know remote working increases the possibility of security attacks and data breaches. And with the growing use of mobile expanding their attack surface, they are finding out firsthand that current solutions, relying on VPNs and user IDs, for example, are simply not enough. 

The resulting data breaches and attacks can be costly and damaging to organizations, exposing them to reputational damage and significant fines. Over 2023, the healthcare and financial sectors both paid a heavy price for data breaches. In fact, according to research by Proxyrack, the average cost of a data breach incident in healthcare is estimated at $9.23 million — the highest of any industry surveyed. The financial sector comes in second, with an average cost of $5.27 million.

Industries subject to rigorous regulation, like healthcare and finance, are encountering growing challenges with staff’s usage of applications, such as WhatsApp and Slack, for file sharing. This practice can violate stringent regulations pertaining to data confidentiality and security.

To tackle these growing concerns surrounding mobile data security, Symmetrium focused on upgrading its offering during 2023 to directly address and provide a solution to the security flaws CSOs were encountering.

Here are the standout highlights:

An Instant Messaging (IM) and SMS Data Protection Solution

With messaging apps now commonplace in the work environment, Symmetrium released its  unique IM and SMS suite. This innovation empowers organizations to promptly counter these security risks by implementing Virtual Mobile Devices (VDMs) within their network. 

Symmetrium’s VDMs offer users dedicated work mobile numbers, serving as unique identifiers, all without requiring separate physical devices. This shields employees against SMS phishing (Smishing), actively preventing fraudulent activities and malicious links by meticulously scanning every message. It seamlessly integrates with existing email security tools to ensure secure message delivery to end users. 

The solution also addresses compliance concerns by efficiently capturing and storing all work-related messages, establishing an agentless IM and SMS archive. This capability enables organizations to consistently meet the stringent regulatory data requirements imposed on their specific sector.

Creating a True Zero-Trust Solution to Reduce Attack-Surface Area

To limit the amount of touch points to public networks, Symmetrium delivered a cutting-edge zero-trust data mobile access solution. This facilitates productive collaboration while significantly reducing the attack-surface area and the chances of data breaches. 

To maintain a secure and private zero-trust environment for data, while minimizing external touch points to the internet, Symmetrium uses its groundbreaking VMDs. These reside within the organization’s network, so when accessed by employees remotely via their mobile phones or laptops, they serve as extensions of the company’s comprehensive security and compliance policies. 

By leveraging end-to-end encrypted streaming, these VMDs ensure a seamless, completely native mobile experience with effortless deployment and management. Sensitive data is accessed virtually and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is a true zero-trust environment, a radically reduced attack surface to ensure that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

Upgrading to Support 5G Networks to Deliver Security and Speed

During 2023, Symmetirum upgraded its streaming technology to support 5G networks. This uses AWS Wavelength Zones to enable organizations deploying Symmetrium’s high-performance Virtual Mobile Devices to benefit from a near real-time experience.

AWS Wavelength integrates the high bandwidth and ultralow latency capabilities of 5G networks with AWS compute and storage services. So, rather than using the public internet, AWS Wavelength Zones enable users to have a telco-grade connection between the cloud and the telco, and between the device and the telco. This shortens the overall time point-to-point, providing a super fast native experience for Symmetrium’s users.

Revolutionizing Zero-Trust Capabilities for Mobile Devices

In the quest for zero trust, Symmetrium’s provision of Virtual Mobile Devices functioning within the organization’s network perimeter, coupled with P2P encrypted streaming, guarantees data security without storing data on external devices. This innovative approach negates the necessity for extensive technological overhauls, enabling seamless integration of Symmetrium into existing infrastructure.

In 2024 Symmetrium will continue to empower organizations to confidently confront zero-trust challenges, facilitating a secure digital transformation. Organizations implementing Symmetrium will shield their data from both established and emerging security threats, including spyware, thereby enabling them to maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic landscape.

Safeguard your workspaces by establishing a genuine zero-trust environment for your mobile devices. Schedule a demo with Symmetrium today.

Navigating Compliance: Controlling IM Communications and Archiving in Highly Regulated Industries

With stringent oversight and the ever-evolving legislative landscape, organizations operating within highly regulated sectors face a unique set of challenges. One of the paramount considerations is managing how information is shared by employees and to ensure it is adherence to industry-specific regulations.

This has become a highly complicated management task, with Instant Messaging emerging as a highly popular communications tool to send and receive information within organizations. This is why controlled IM communications and archiving are now essential elements of compliance and risk mitigation.

Meeting the Needs of the Regulatory Maze

Highly regulated industries such as finance, healthcare, legal, and energy are no strangers to the intricate web of compliance requirements. Regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and others wield substantial authority over these sectors. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties, including fines, legal actions, and reputational damage.

Within this context, the management of mobile electronic communications has come under intense scrutiny. Regulators require organizations to maintain and archive a comprehensive record of these communications. The rationale behind this is twofold: to ensure transparency and to facilitate investigations when necessary.

The IM Challenge

IM platforms enable swift decision-making, collaboration, and information sharing. However, their informal and unsanctioned nature poses unique challenges when it comes to compliance. Conversations happen quickly, often without the formality of emails, making them difficult to track and archive.

Furthermore, the use of personal devices for business communication, a common practice known as “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), complicates matters. In BYOD scenarios, distinguishing between personal and business-related communications becomes challenging, potentially exposing personal data to scrutiny during compliance audits.

In heavily regulated sectors, challenges arise when employees transmit files through applications, such as WhatsApp and Slack. These actions can result in data breaches and non-compliance with stringent regulations governing data confidentiality and security. Archiving these IM ‘conversations’ is infeasible despite regulatory requirements, due to technical and privacy challenges, forcing organizations to attempt to ban their use within the corporate environment.  

Difficulties Trying to Ban IM Communications 

Establishing and upholding a secure and compliant environment, with appropriate archiving, places a significant burden on organizations. This has left those who spearhead compliance policies struggling to control employees’ use of apps, such as Whatsapp, WeChat or TikTok, for work purposes. Indeed, the biggest concern for 61.5% of compliance leaders is “getting employees to comply with rules for electronic communication.” 

Even more concerning is that only 3% of compliance officers “strongly believe” banning messaging platforms is an effective method of ensuring compliant communications within their organization. This is even though the majority (59%) has enforced prohibitions on the use of social media and messaging apps as a response to heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Increasing Regulatory Pressure

However, despite the difficulties involved, regulators are increasing the pressure on organizations to demonstrate how they are monitoring and archiving data exchanged using messaging apps. 

The SEC, for example, has been taking a tough stance on major banks for their failure to monitor and archive their employees’ messages on unauthorized platforms. In December, the SEC imposed fines totaling $1.1 billion on Citigroup, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs, following a $125 million penalty against J.P. Morgan Chase in December 2021.

The extent of the investigation into text messaging practices saw the SEC request firms to furnish their policies and procedures governing the use or prohibition of text messages and the retention of communications associated with brokerage or advisory services. Subsequently, the agency seeks documentation revealing the individuals responsible for supervising these messages, the methods employed for monitoring and training, as well as the mechanisms in place for detecting violations. 

Across all sectors that have to adhere to strict regulations, the use of messaging apps is presenting one of the biggest compliance challenges to confront organizations.

How Organizations Can Quickly and Cost Effectively Ensure Compliance

The paramount objective of regulation revolves around safeguarding data, necessitating the prevention of data from leaving and residing outside the corporate network. Symmetrium achieves this with the creation of Virtual Mobile Devices (VMDs) situated within the secure confines of an organization’s network. These VMDs seamlessly align with existing enterprise network and regulatory protocols, assuring the privacy and protection of all data. This proactive approach mitigates against the risk of substantial fines.

Symmetrium’s VMDs employ P2P encrypted streaming technology, enabling employees to access data through a designated portal on their personal devices. Importantly, this access is view-only, ensuring that the data never traverses beyond the secure organizational network and is never stored on external user devices. This robust security framework guarantees the continual safeguarding and compliance of sensitive data, with no data ever residing on devices external to the organization’s IT environment.

A Simplified and Streamlined Approach 

The outcome of implementing Symmetrium’s VMDs is a simplified and more streamlined approach to managing data. Regulatory officers and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) benefit from reduced complexity, as Symmetrium’s VMDs seamlessly extend existing compliance protocols. They are effortless to deploy and provide a native mobile experience, instantly ensuring compliance through customized end-to-end encrypted streaming, with no data stored at rest. Each mobile user is treated as an on-premises endpoint, granting control over when and where data can be accessed.

Symmetrium’s mobile access solution boasts minimal operational requirements while meeting stringent security compliance standards, seamlessly integrating with established data access protocols. The result is compliance simplified into a single, user-friendly app.

The need for controlled IM communications and archiving is paramount in highly regulated industries. Compliance is not merely a regulatory box to check; it’s a strategic imperative for risk management, security, and operational efficiency. Organizations that embrace these solutions not only meet their compliance obligations but also position themselves for success in an ever-changing regulatory landscape.

Isn’t it time you reevaluated your approach to meeting your regulatory requirements? Schedule a demonstration with Symmetrium today.

How to Protect Data When Mobile is the Biggest Threat to Corporate IT Security

The growth in BYOD policies and prevalence of hybrid work is seeing an increasing number of employees ditch traditional work devices in favor of personal ones. The result has seen cybercriminals shift their focus. They now see mobile devices as the soft underbelly of corporate IT networks and the perfect launchpad for their attacks. 

There are several reasons why hackers see personal mobile devices used in a corporate setting as an easy target. When managing these devices, mobile users frequently depend on the default security settings provided by manufacturers, as opposed to employing enhanced security software that is commonly deployed on their desktop computers.  Additionally, they often fail to regularly update their mobile operating systems, leaving their devices vulnerable to the latest malware and viruses. They also use a multitude of non-work-related apps, potentially exposing their device to being compromised. 

Cybercriminals have become adept at distributing malevolent APKs (Android application package files) through direct downloads and third-party app stores by masquerading unofficial versions of legitimate apps. By capitalizing on the familiarity of well-known app names, these malicious apps aim to infiltrate employee devices with malware. 

Highly regulated sectors, such as healthcare and finance, also face problems when employees send files via apps such as WhatsApp and Slack. These can be responsible for data leaks and contravene strict regulations surrounding the confidentiality and security of data. 

 

Lack of Adequate Security Protection for Mobile Devices

Despite these threats and the widespread implementation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, there is still a glaring lack of adequate mobile security protection in most organizations. And this should make every CSO shudder given the results of research carried out by SlashNext

  • 71% of employees store sensitive work passwords on their personal phone
  • 66% of employees sometimes use their personal texting apps for work use
  • 59% of employees sometimes use their personal private messaging apps for work use.

Unsurprisingly, a growing number of CSOs are finding out the hard way that mobile devices represent one of the most vulnerable endpoint in their organization. But why, in an era where mobile device management (MDM) solutions enable administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on phones, tablets and other endpoints, is mobile still seen by hackers as highly exploitable?

The problem is that mobile presents a security threat that is bigger than the sum of its parts — beyond emails, calendars or messaging apps — because mobile devices interact with numerous systems, networks and enterprise data. Their escalating use in the workplace therefore means an ever-escalating array of devices, endpoints and identities. This means they require an entire set of resources to continuously secure, protect and manage their usage that few organizations have the resources or solutions to fully implement. 

 

The Achilles Heel Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The key flaw of MDM solutions revolves around their primary goal — to enable the centralized management of all endpoint devices and users. This approach encompasses various tools like mobile application management (MAM) and identity and access management capabilities. But focusing on managing devices and identity management is not enough. Employees have multiple identities — for email, WhatsApp, Slack, etc — and CSOs can fall into the false belief that by securing these various IDs, they in turn protect devices and data. But the Achilles heel with these solutions is that they, again, focus on securing devices and users — not data.

So, once users are granted access to the corporate IT network, the data they interact with on their mobile is stored on that device. Consequently, the data is no longer confined within the secure corporate network environment and is left exposed and vulnerable on the device it now resides on. Hackers exploit this by targeting individual employees who have access to confidential information on their mobile device, rather than exploiting a technical vulnerability

 

Addressing the Risks Posed by Remote Access 

The ultimate goal of security has to focus on protecting data and therefore needs to stop data from leaving and coming to rest outside of the corporate network. This is precisely where Symmetrium, a cutting-edge zero-trust data mobile access solution, steps in, facilitating productive collaboration while significantly reducing the chances of data breaches. This innovative solution effectively transforms any mobile device, be it managed or unmanaged, into a virtual extension of the organization’s network, complete with compliance, security, and IT protocols.

To maintain a secure and private zero-trust environment for data, Symmetrium offers a groundbreaking solution through its virtual mobile devices (VMDs). These virtual devices, residing within the organization’s network, serve as extensions of the company’s comprehensive security and compliance policies when accessed remotely by employees via their mobile phones or laptops. Leveraging end-to-end encrypted streaming, these VMDs ensure a seamless, completely native mobile experience with effortless deployment and management. Sensitive data is accessed virtually and therefore at no time sits on the user’s actual device. The result is that data remains secure and is never put at risk.

With Symmetrium at their disposal, organizations gain unparalleled control over the data accessed by their employees through mobile devices, ensuring robust protection against potential risks. The convenience of a centralized management console allows for efficient management of diverse devices, regardless of their brand or operating system, all while minimizing resource allocation.

 

Seamlessly Meeting Security and GRC Protocols

The seamless integration of Symmetrium effortlessly aligns with existing security and GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) protocols, united under a single application. As a result, organizations can rest assured, knowing that their data remains safeguarded and secure, regardless of the device utilized for access, because Symmetrium: 

  1. Enforces strict network policies for seamless protection of sensitive data and compliance with regulations.
  2. Ensures Compatibility with various hardware and software configurations on multiple devices.
  3. Mitigates the risk of data breaches, malware attacks, and unauthorized access.
  4. Requires minimal resource allocation, optimizing efficiency.
  5. Delivers centralized management through a user-friendly console.
  6. Enables employees to utilize personal devices while maintaining their experience and privacy.
  7. Ensures a highly cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for device purchasing, maintenance, or upgrades.

Symmetrium’s streamlined approach empowers organizations to maintain unwavering data security, bolstering data governance, and fortifying against potential vulnerabilities with confidence.

Discover how easy it is to tame the threat of mobile security by booking a demo with Symmetrium here.

How to Overcome the Problems Achieving HIPAA Compliance for Mobile Devices

Implementing and maintaining a secure and compliant HIPAA environment places a heavy burden on healthcare organizations, with current solutions failing to consistently meet the strict regulatory requirements. Symmetrium’s compliant-by-design mobile device management solution is now a game changer, ensuring HIPAA compliance through the use of a single, low maintenance application. 

The use of mobile devices has become a staple feature of every healthcare environment. But while they are transforming patient care, the security risks mobile devices pose to confidential patient information is a growing risk. This is why access to healthcare data via mobile devices has been specifically targeted by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law requiring the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed.

 

Challenges Involved in Protecting ePHI

HIPAA protects electronic protected health information (ePHI) that is produced, saved, transferred or received in an electronic form. Every entity that has access to ePHI needs to be compliant to HIPAA rules. This applies to doctors, nurses, clinics, pharmacies, insurance companies and anyone accessing ePHI — they all need to be compliant. 

HIPAA states: “Healthcare providers, other covered entities, and business associates may use mobile devices to access electronic protected health information (ePHI) as long as appropriate physical, administrative, and technical safeguards are in place to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the ePHI on the mobile device and appropriate BAAs [Business Associate Agreements] are in place with any third-party service providers for the device and/or the cloud that will have access to e-PHI.”

However, staff mobility, remote employees, third-party contractors and BYOD policies are just a few of the reasons implementing adequate security and compliance solutions to meet HIPAA requirements is increasingly difficult. 

 

Vulnerabilities in Current Solutions 

With a heavy burden placed on the healthcare sector to be HIPAA compliant, the first line of defense is to ensure devices include the necessary safeguards to guarantee against theft and data loss through the use of a robust layer of security.
HIPAA regulations also require that ePHI data must be encrypted when transmitted over a network. The most popular way of doing this is to create a VPN through which VDIs (virtual desktop infrastructure) can connect to the data, therefore negating the need for it to be encrypted. This however raises problems.

Usage can be limited because a user needs to make sure no one else is using the VDI. This means they have limited flexibility and can be more difficult to scale as needed. This can be a problem for organizations with fluctuating user numbers or those looking to implement a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. There are also security concerns as users operating in a VDI environment can as easily click on a malicious link in an email or on a web page as someone using a physical desktop. 

VDIs also require a heavy level of management and maintenance, which places a heavy burden for qualified IT staff where ongoing training and staff turnover can become problematic. To comply with HIPAA data encryption and data wiping tools may also need to be implemented and maintained. This can add to the management burden. 

 

Achieving HIPAA Compliance with One Solution

HIPAA compliance can be achieved using only one solution. Symmetrium is HIPAA compliant by design for mobile devices. Symmetrium creates virtual mobile devices (VMDs) that reside within the protected perimeter of a healthcare organization’s network and thus adhere to all existing enterprise network and HIPAA security protocols. This ensures that ePHI data is kept private and protected, avoiding security breaches and massive fines.

Symmetrium VMDs use P2P encrypted streaming, which allows healthcare workers to view ePHI data via a portal using their own devices. This view-only access means ePHI data never leaves the protected organizational network and therefore is never transferred to a user’s external device. This ensures the data at all times remains secure and compliant, never coming to rest on devices outside of the protected organizational IT environment.

The result is an easier life for regulatory officers and CIOs thanks to the less complicated management of ePHI data, because:

  1. Symmetrium’s VMDs become a virtual extension of all existing HIPAA compliance protocols, are seamless to deploy and offer a native mobile experience.

  2. They immediately ensure HIPAA compliance in BYOD environments using custom end-to-end encrypted streaming with no ePHI data at rest. This means that each mobile user is treated as an on-prem endpoint, which they can control when and where users can access ePHI data.

  3. Symmetrium’s minimum-resources mobile access solution needs very light operational requirements and delivers high security compliance demands that integrate smoothly into existing data access protocols. The result is HIPAA compliance using one single app. 

 

Isn’t it time you reconsidered your approach to meeting HIPAA requirements? Book a demo with Symmetrium here.

SEC Issues Over $2bn in Fines to Crack Down on Use of WhatsApp and Other Messaging Apps

With financial institutions struggling to meet their regulatory obligations regarding messaging apps, the sector could have saved billions of dollars by using Symmetrium to minimize their exposure.

When JPMorgan was hit with $200 million in SEC fines in Dec 2021, for letting employees use WhatsApp, it should have been a warning sign. Less than a year later, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) struck again, fining 16 Wall Street firms $1.8B for using private text apps

This avalanche of fines was imposed on banks and financial institutions for allowing employees to discuss business via unapproved and unmonitored messaging systems, such as WhatsApp. Such discussions are legally required to be recorded, stored and available to government authorities to review when required.

The sector has been cracking down heavily on the use of unsecured messaging apps for business. In 2020, for example, a senior credit trader at JPMorgan was suspended for communicating via WhatsApp with colleagues at Jefferies, KPMG, and VTB Capital. 

 

Financial Institutions Struggling to Meet Regulatory Requirements

With the pervasive use of mobile phones as hybrid work policies become more normal, the exposure firms face has risen sharply since the time when only email was being used. All email messages could be stored and archived on corporate email servers to meet regulatory requirements, but now with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and the widespread use of messaging apps, banks are struggling to meet SEC requirements. 

WhatsApp remains the most popular messaging app, but more than a half dozen others are regularly used, such as Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WeChat and Telegram. Their prevalence is giving Compliance Officers at financial services firms sleepless nights as workplace smartphones and BYOD policies create a perfect storm for users to intentionally or even accidentally breach SEC rules. 

 

How The Sector Could Have Avoided Billion-Dollar Fines

Sharing data using unauthorized messaging apps and personal email accounts not only flouts SEC regulations but can also expose sensitive data to security risks. Symmetrium’s zero trust mobile access solution has been specifically designed to help organizations operating in highly regulated sectors to remain compliant by keeping data protected, particularly in BYOD environments. 

Symmetrium is device agnostic, and works by the creation of virtual mobile devices (VMDs) within the organization’s own IT environment. These VMDs sit within this protected environment and when remotely accessed these virtual devices act as extensions of all organizational security and compliance policies using end-to-end encrypted streaming. So when messaging using Symmetrium’s mobile access solution, all regulatory obligations are adhered to in this highly controlled environment. The result is a completely secure, compliant and native mobile experience with seamless deployment and management.

 

Ensuring All Data Remains SEC Compliant

With messages sent by authorized users virtually accessing Symmetrium via the organizational network, the messages and any associated data never sits on the user’s actual device. The result is that data remains secure and archived to meet SECs requirements.

Each mobile device acts as an on-prem laptop, allowing for full control over employee messaging to shield financial institutions from any risks associated with using messaging apps, such as WhatsApp. 

This allows for minimum-resources mobile messaging management via a central management console for all devices, OS and brands. All is integrated smoothly into existing security and GRC data access protocols through one single app. The result is organizations can finally be confident their data and messaging remains secure and compliant at all times, avoiding crippling fines and potential data breaches. 

Discover how Symmetrium can keep your data and employee messaging compliant by booking a demo here.

 

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