Admit it. Texting is easier than sending an email on your smartphone. Just open the message icon and type a very brief message. Then hit send. Done. Most people don’t normally re-read the message to check for proper spelling or syntax. They just hit send and move on to something else. I get it, life has become too hectic, and text messages are easy, which makes them a welcome part of life. But, there are some serious security concerns to texting.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, of the 83% of American adults who own cell phones, 73% of them send and receive text messages. Of those texters, 31% preferred texts to talking on the phone. And 55% of those who exchange more than 50 texts a day said they would rather get a text than a voice call.
But what happens when your company requires you to use your smartphone for business as part of the BYOD (bring your own device to work) phenomenon? There are private text messages on your phone. You may text family, friends, and even co-workers. And these texts may include personal information.
If your company ever has a lawsuit or is involved in a criminal investigation, and your phone is used for business, then the texts and emails stored on your phone can be accessed for legal purposes. In extreme cases, your phone can be searched and seized by the company or by law enforcement. This is called eDiscovery, and any electronic documentation that attorneys believe to be pertinent to their case can be seized. In these scenarios, how do you feel about your company representatives (your CEO/President, leadership team, lawyers, and legal teams) or law enforcement (local police or FBI at a minimum) reading your text messages? Do you even remember the content of all the texts or context? Did you ever write anything negative about a co-worker or supervisor via text?
Additionally, text messages are sent in “plain text,” which means there is no encryption used to send these messages, so anyone with the proper software – inside and outside of your company – can read them. This means that any information you send to a work colleague that might contain confidential or sensitive data can be read by unintended parties. Text messages may also be used against YOU, if you send disparaging remarks about a co-worker or manager to anyone within your company. This could lead to employment termination.
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press by Mike Wendland, “For major corporations and governments, the automatic archiving of such messages is important, where legal requirements mandate the storage of all business-related or government-related communications.”
While text messages may be deleted from a smartphone’s memory, they can usually be retrieved from the central server and, and if requested by subpoena, turned over as evidence in legal proceedings.
Now you understand, the security concern about texting is real. So remember this tip: Don’t say, or in this case, write, anything you don’t want other people to read – anywhere.
*In Netlingo: AWTTW stands for “A Word to the Wise”
Related Post: BYOD: Should it be the wave of the future? https://tips4tech.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/byod-wave-of-the-future
Related Post: How secure is your mobile device? https://tips4tech.wordpress.com/2013/03/13/how-secure-mobile-device
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.