The rise of mobile devices has had a transformative effect on countless businesses and other organizations. In particular, the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets has dramatically increased the flexibility and potential productivity of a tremendous number of employees. Perhaps the most visible evidence of the significance and effectiveness of mobile devices can be seen in the increasing number of firms that have adopted bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. BYOD offers numerous benefits, and firms of all kinds are eager to take advantage.
According to industry expert Michael Finneran, however, there is significant danger to this trend. Writing for Unified Communications Strategies, Finneran indicated that adoption of BYOD policies is progressing faster than the development of data protection measures, potentially putting firms without secure file sharing and other solutions in place at risk of data loss or theft.
Finneran recently completed the InformationWeek 2013 State of Mobile Security Report, which included insight from 424 respondents, all of whom were professionally involved with mobile device strategy or management at their organizations. The report found that 68 percent of these firms now support BYOD policies, whereas only 60 percent did so last year. Furthermore, an additional 20 percent of firms are developing BYOD policies, which means that nearly nine out of every 10 firms will have BYOD in place in the near future.
The report also found that businesses are relatively aware of the security threats posed by BYOD. The risk of lost or stolen devices was the most frequently cited issue in this regard, highlighted by 78 percent of participants.
However, despite this awareness, Finneran noted that participants have not demonstrated a willingness or ability to take coherent actions to mitigate these risks. As a result, many firms are at risk of experiencing a data breach in the event of a lost mobile device or malware attack.
It seems that businesses have by and large determined that the benefits offered by BYOD outweigh the risks. While this is a fair assessment, it is also true that businesses can and should take active steps to reduce the risks associated with BYOD policies. With sufficient precautions, the threat of a security incident developing as a result of BYOD deployments can be reduced significantly.
The question, then, is precisely what policies and solutions businesses should pursue in order to protect corporate and client data within BYOD deployments.
The ideal answer to this question will vary from firm to firm. Every organization will have its own BYOD goals and data protection needs, and the right secure file sharing plan will need to be tailored to address these desires.
However, there is at least one overarching consideration which applies to all potential solutions, and that is the importance of choosing an easy-to-use tool. If the BYOD data protection resource is burdensome, adoption rates will suffer, making corporate data vulnerable to loss and theft.