If you use your smartphone and tablet for work-related tasks, you're not alone. Enterprises are increasingly adopting "bring your own device" policies in the workplace. But as the mobile revolution takes over businesses, how sure are we of security and data integrity?
Mobile devices are popular in the workplace because of the convenience they bring. While IT departments used to limit mobile access to their own company-issued devices, the trend today is leaning toward a "bring your own" setup, in which employees can use their own choice of gadgets. In some cases, the company will shoulder the cost of a device chosen by the employee (sometimes partially). However, as mobile proliferate in the enterprise setting, information security gets worse, according to a study by Check Point. The flood of iPads, iPhones, Android smartphones and tablets, and other devices results in an increasing risk of information getting into the wrong hands.
Are Mobile Devices Insecure?
Check Point says it partly lies with the security of the devices themselves (or lack thereof), and partly with the portable nature of these devices. Then there's the human factor, which means user habits also play a part in mobile security. Here are a few notable points.
- Login credentials for databases and business apps reside on 38% of mobile devices used in the workplace
- The number of mobile devices connecting to the corporate network has doubled in two years, with half storing sensitive corporate data
- 70% of companies believe mobile devices are a security issue; 43% think Android poses a "large security risk"
- 59% of companies believe WiFi connectivity is a big risk when it comes to mobile access
- 79% of employer-provided mobile devices allow email access
- 47% of employer-issued mobile devices contain customer data
Losing Sensitive Data is a Big Concern
Check Point says the biggest concern among companies is the possibility of employees losing their mobile devices along with sensitive information. Also, employee habits and activities are also considered a risk, with 60% of businesses surveyed believing their employees are putting corporate data at risk by surfing the Web through their mobile devices.
Horror stories about customer data and other supposedly-confidential information being lost along with smartphones, laptops and tablets abound. Even with mobile devices having remote-wipe capabilities, businesses are not always trusting of their effectiveness. As such, the best way to deal with mobility and security is to use enterprise-grade apps and server-side software. There's also the human factor, though, which is perhaps the weakest link in the chain.
As such, there needs to be a change in user behavior, which can include being more mindful of websites one accesses, or apps that one downloads. Of course, it goes without mentioning that employees who bring sensitive data on their smartphones and tablets should make it a point not to lose their iPhones or iPads at their favorite pub while on a Friday night drinking binge.