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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Are mobile users putting your enterprise at risk?

Mobile devices are popular because they're easy to keep on-hand and offer a number of convenient, intuitive applications.

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Mobile devices are popular because they're easy to keep on-hand and offer a number of convenient, intuitive applications. For that reason, there's been a growing embrace of mobile devices in the workplace, from company-owned machines to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Employees also often use their personal smartphones and tablets to check company email or complete work outside of the office. These options can help to increase productivity, job satisfaction and collaboration, but they make secure file sharing practices all the more urgent in order for organizations to keep their data safe.

Mobile device security 
When employees access company resources on their mobile devices, organizations need to consider how secure those gadgets are, especially if workers don't follow best practices for encrypting data or email documents to their personal email accounts, removing them from the company network. A recent report by the Federal Trade Commission suggested that mobile device and app makers need to implement changes to increase security and privacy controls. For example, 57 percent of users uninstalled apps or chose not to install apps because of concerns over personal information. However, other consumers do have apps on their smartphones that collect a great amount of information, potentially exposing the accounts on the device to vulnerabilities.

"Every day millions of Americans use mobile applications to help us get through the day. But many consumers do not know their data is being collected. This privacy breach is just not 1's and 0's, it's personal information," Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson told Congress, according to American News Report.

If many of these apps are consumer-facing, why does it matter for enterprises? As the news source noted, the line between corporate and personal activities and resources is becoming increasingly blurred as people develop more routines that include checking or performing business operations on their own devices and often outside of a 9 to 5 schedule.

Secure file sharing in a mobile world 
Enterprises need to ensure that employees can access the information they need to do their jobs - even remotely - without sacrificing security. The first step is offering workers the right tools to use on their devices so that they're not forced or tempted to resort to outside programs and services. Tech Republic mentioned that the convenience of the public cloud and services like Dropbox is leading employees to evade IT procedures to use consumer-grade products. They may view this form of "Rogue IT" or "Shadow IT" as a way to increase productivity and support collaboration with colleagues, but it also takes data management and security out of the hands of trained professionals. Consequently, companies lose control of their information resources and risk exposure or losses.

As Tech Republic explained, public services do have some security protections, but this can't guarantee that employees will use them properly. Instead, solutions like wide area file services (WAFS) can offer workers tools to access information from any device, anywhere, while keeping the data in a secure, managed environment. The key to this sort of solution, however, is to ensure it's convenient, intuitive and user-friendly so employees have no incentive to resort to less secure shortcuts.

In the end, mobile security is an ongoing consideration that business leaders need to vigilantly address. They should train their team members on the risks associated with poor file sharing practices, implement and enforce clear policies and uphold security best practices. The high-cost impact of data breaches can be devastating for companies, so it's critical to manage information resources properly. Security can be a daunting task, but the right secure file sharing tools can help make it a little easier.