BYOD creates need for better secure file sharing solutions

Mar 12th, 2014 / Category: Enterprise Mobility

As part of an effort to help employees be more productive with convenient technology options, a growing number of companies are implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies or at least offering tools for workers to connect to corporate resources on their own gadgets from home. This trend offers ways for businesses to cut costs, support collaboration and facilitate more flexible working options, but it requires even more comprehensive secure file sharing solutions to guard against data breaches and lost documents.

Why BYOD? 
ITWeb explained that the increasing popularity of BYOD options is driven by the growing importance of mobility for corporations. The business world is changing, with offices that span time zones and continents as well as a break from the traditional nine to five workday. BYOD is also seen as a strategy for improving the customer experience by empowering employees with resources that they're comfortable using and can carry with them whereever they meet consumers.

Allowing workers to bring their own machines to the office or use them to complete business activities remotely also carries potential financial benefits for companies, the source added. Organizations can cut down on their hardware investments by allowing workers to use their personal devices instead of company-owned devices. However, all of these benefits are overshadowed if IT teams lose control of network security and the organization is hit by a data breach.

Security concerns
Companies can have strong, dependable security for their corporate networks, but if employees take sensitive files outside of this safe environment when they use their own devices, businesses might as well lower their firewalls altogether. Mobile devices are not only susceptible to attack through connections to unsecured Wi-Fi networks, they're also far easier to lose or have stolen than your average company desktop. One of the biggest challenges for IT teams with the adoption of BYOD is ensuring these devices are protected and maintaining control over the flow of information even as business operations are completed far outside of company walls.

According to a recent study by Infonetics Research, the majority of enterprises surveyed indicated that the need to cover both personal and company devices was driving their plans for mobile security initiatives, but about half were relying on the device OS to provide protection. 

"What the industry needs are solutions capable of securing all company- and employee-owned devices from the same console, to ensure an identical level of protection for all devices, which means deploying security in the network or cloud as well as on the device," said Jeff Wilson, principal analyst for security at Infonetics Research.

To mitigate these concerns, companies can turn to solutions such as wide area file services (WAFS), which allow employees to connect remotely on their devices without requiring any company information to be downloaded on the hardware itself. This allows it to remain protected by enterprise security measures while enabling IT teams to retain greater control over the flow of information.

Part of a broader problem 
Information security is a growing concern and problem for enterprises, especially as the threat of data breaches continues to grow alongside the increasing volume of digital resources. The Business Continuity Institute (BCI)'s recent report revealed that IT-related threats are among the top concerns for company executives, with over 70 percent worrying about unplanned outages, cyberattacks and data breaches. These incidents can be caused by poor planning, insufficient technology, natural disasters and human error.

"A lot of these issues are a result of people failures, not system failures," Erica Salmon Byrne, executive vice president of compliance and governance solutions for NYSE Governance Services, told Compliance Week.

In addition to implementing high-performance secure file sharing solutions, organizations should make sure the programs they ask employees to use are intuitive, convenient and easy to hold to best practices.