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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mobile a major security challenge for Irish firms, study finds

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Mobile solutions are quickly establishing themselves as among the most critical aspects of firms' IT deployments. By embracing mobile, firms of all sizes and in every industry can become more flexible, as employees are better able to perform work while outside the office. Because employees enjoy having these options available, embracing mobility can also improve overall job satisfaction.

Yet these benefits do not come without a downside. Leveraging mobile solutions also raises security risks for participating firms, thereby posing a significant IT challenge and creating a need for secure file sharing solutions.

The growing popularity of mobile solutions and the accompanying security issues were recently highlighted by a study, conducted by IDC, which found that Irish firms see IT security as the greatest technological challenge they face today.

IT, mobility and security
The study, commissioned by Vodafone, surveyed 250 Irish businesses, asking them to identify the biggest technological issues they are currently navigating. IT security was the most common answer, cited by 71 percent of participating firms.

Perhaps surprisingly, only one-fifth of firms responded that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies represent a major technical challenge. However, the report's authors concluded that this low level of concern was due more to an underappreciation of the risk involved in this area than robust security practices among businesses.

"We have seen a 37.5 percent increase in smartphone users on our network in the past year and our connected tablet base has already doubled over the last few months," said Leo O'Leary, head of corporate and public sector for Vodafone Ireland. "This access to multi-functional portable devices presents both opportunities in terms of enabling greater productivity and creativity, but also raises important security challenges."

O'Leary further noted that the ability to effectively leverage available data for a range of purposes, including business intelligence, is essential for companies hoping to retain a competitive advantage in their industries.

Mobile solutions can be tremendously beneficial in this capacity, as they allow executives and other employees to access such information at any time and from any location. But as data is more accessible to employees, the possibility that it will be exposed to unauthorized personnel also grows.

Solutions available
As O'Leary noted, however, utilizing mobility does not have to be a high-risk proposition, as tools exist which firms can and should use to protect the integrity of their information.

"Security of data must always be a top priority and no longer needs to be as significant a challenge. There are now many mobile device management solutions available to businesses to put such structures in place to secure their remote network and mobile devices," he said.

Additionally, firms should consider investing in secure file sharing solutions. With these tools, companies can provide an easy way for employees to send and receive files via mobile devices from any location, without reducing data protection standards.