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Monday, April 01, 2013

BYOD growing, along with security risks

Category:   Enterprise Mobility

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As businesses strive to gain competitive advantages in their given industries, they must pay close attention to any trends that may give them an edge. It can be extremely difficult to keep up with rival firms if the business does not react quickly enough to new technologies and strategies as they develop.

Such is the case with the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend. Originally a relatively small movement, BYOD was gradually embraced by a large number of businesses. And as these organizations have reaped the benefits, others have followed.

The scope of this development was recently highlighted by a Cisco-sponsored study, which found that BYOD has become the standard for many organizations. However, security risks remain, suggesting more firms need to consider investing in secure file sharing solutions.

BYOD for all
The study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S employees and was conducted by TekScape, found that 90 percent of participants used their personal smartphones to perform work in the past year.

Furthermore, among those whose employers utilize BYOD, 92 percent said they use their personal smartphones for work every week, and 62 do so on a daily basis.

These high numbers indicate that BYOD has become not only accepted, but has been embraced by a diverse range of businesses in the United States. These firms gain the benefits of a more satisfied and, critically, more responsive, agile workforce. The survey found that more than two-thirds of employees participating in BYOD deployments said it was assumed that they would read work emails after work hours.

However, there are significant security tradeoffs which businesses are taking on, due to an apparent lack of sufficient concern for data protection. The study found that despite nine out of ten participants using personal devices for work, more than half of respondents do not believe their employers are ready to handle BYOD issues that may arise. Additionally, 39 percent of participants' smartphones lacked password protection measures and 52 percent indicated they have accessed unsecured WiFi networks with their personal devices.

BYOD security
These last figures should be extremely worrisome for businesses hoping to take advantage of the benefits of BYOD deployments. Without adequate security, a BYOD policy can prove more of a liability than a tool. Yet this is not a problem easily solved. One of the most detrimental aspects of BYOD is that it is far more difficult for a firm to ensure employees' devices are protected, as opposed to a corporate-issued device policy. As these adoption levels demonstrate, though, it is likely unfeasible for most firms to move away from a BYOD policy at this point.

The answer to this problem is for firms to invest in the right data protection tools for their BYOD deployments. Specifically, businesses should pursue secure file sharing solutions that are designed to provide security without posing an undue burden on employees. To be effective, these solutions must be virtually unnoticeable and automatic, ensuring that workers actually leverage the protection technology.