Where is Your Data?

Sitting down for lunch this last week with a colleague in LA, I noticed three young ladies at a table nearby.  Typical of many people today, besides the constant chatter back and forth, all three were texting away and checking email, etc. on their iPhones.

One of the ladies was a smoker and through the course of the visit, kept getting up to go outside to indulge.  (I noticed by the pack of cigarettes and lighter she would leave on the table upon her return.)  Not wanting to pause the conversation, the other two companions would join their smoker friend and head outside.

So what does this have to do with data?

No less that THREE times during the time we were sitting nearby, all three of the ladies left their iPhones on the table when they went outside!  I suppose the thought the waiter would watch the  phones for them?  The restaurant was quite busy as it is a popular place at lunchtime with people coming and going, and many passed by the table with the iPhones left out in plain view.  Anyone could have easily picked up one of the iPhones and been gone in an instant; unnoticed.  I even thought of grabbing one myself to return to the owner later as a lesson, but thought better of it from an ethical and legal standpoint.

Were these personal phones?  Business phones?  Phones brought into an employer as part of the surge of BYOD?  Regardless, this situation represents real risk of identity theft, loss of corporate information, etc.  So why are so many of us still focused on securing the perimeter when the perimeter may very well be out, unattended on a restaurant table?  If you are a small business owner, do you know where your data is?

Disruptive technologies such as BYOD cannot be stopped.  The economic and productivity benefits are too enticing to ignore and trying to stop such a trend is as effective as standing in front of a herd of stampeding buffalo and yelling “stop!”  Face it, gadgetry is cool and seductive.

There are two short takeaways from this example:

  1. This example is definitely a good topic for employee awareness training on mobile devices
  2. As a small business owner, can you identify where your data is and what your employees do with your data?

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