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BYOD Security Risks: Maintaining Awareness in the New Year

Discover the key security risks that IT executives must be aware of when defining a bring your own device (BYOD) program in the mobile age.

BYOD Security Risks: Maintaining Awareness in the New Year

by Pragati Chaplot Jain | January 08, 2013

As the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show gains momentum, live feeds are buzzing with our favorite word on the MaaSters Center: mobile. Contemporary technological innovation all seems to gravitate back to this one word, as vendors add more functions and features to their products to amplify the user experience and address consumer needs.  In 2013, the mobile space is hotter, more innovative and crowded than ever before.

According to researchers at Accenture, who tracked consumers planning to buy multifunction devices in 2012, the smartphone buying rate rose to 41% from 27% and the tablet consumer rate rose to 23% from 16%, and there are now signs of slowing down. In the coming year we can expect to see more devices appear on our office floors; bring your own device (BYOD) is coming to a workstation near you.

In 2013, the mobile ecosystem stands at its most matured point in history, and mobile products and services have been streamlined to support the BYOD trend. However, for many businesses, endpoint security holds more priority and value than mobile device security.  BYOD programs can be frustrating to manage and associated perils can be a good reason for abandoning them. Daily news reports remind us that unmanaged and unrecognized BYOD can be a storehouse for malware infestations, data breaches, crippling employee productivity and diminishing ROIs.  The real challenge lies in executing the BYOD program—not in launching one. 

As the mobile device user base in an enterprise grows, the risk fold also increases exponentially. While launching your BYOD programs, IT executives must identify, assess and define strategies to ensure BYOD boons and benefits don’t translate to frustrations, or worse, complications

Managing Mobile Security in 2013

As smartphone and tablet ownership continues to grow, Virgin Media Business has pointed out that BYOD devices have been responsible for breaching 51% of UK business networks. Some of the common factors responsible for disrupting the security of a mobile device include:

  • Rising mobile malware threats
  • Insecure browsing
  • Information exchange across mobile devices
  • Hidden URLs
  • Image searches
  • Corrupt email links
  • Lost or stolen mobile devices

Mobile security has become a potent subject in the BYOD era. Thus unmonitored, unguarded and rooted or jail-broken devices must be kept off bay to guard corporate security.

Risk adverse companies are looking beyond the devices themselves, and towards the content residing on devices. Mobile applications are perhaps the easiest way to compromise mobile security. Last year, over 25 billion apps were downloaded from Google Play alone, making it easier to see why applications are easy, lucrative and profitable targets. Thus, IT admins must watch out for any fake applications and unpatched devices residing on their networks and BYOD devices.

Cloud, Data Security and Compliance

Today, the cloud remains one of the biggest enablers for the always connected world. Vendors are defining and launching different cloud-based services to woo their consumers and bolster their competitive edge. Cloud customers are boasting about increases in ROIs and its usability for data disaster recovery in times of any natural crises. Businesses must however realize that the cloud can be fragile; a vulnerable and easy target for cyber criminals. Thus, it is important for businesses to manage, regulate and control the flow of data therein. Mobile policies must be defined to monitor employee cloud usage. Similarly, extra layers of security must be added to avert data breaches or attacks.

Fear of loss of personal identity is a chief concern among business verticals where many important business records or data are tied to an employee identity. IT departments can curtail the associated BYOD risks by setting alerts after a set number of user attempts or by defining mobile policies that restrict the type of documents that can be accessed from a mobile device.

Lastly, obstinate employees refusing to roll their devices into the BYOD program remain one of the biggest deterrents to the success of BYOD. In such scenarios, IT admins must walk the employees through the benefits of a BYOD program, explain what it has to offer and how they can benefit, and design support materials, such as videos, tutorial and  training sessions, to alleviate their fears. Employee participation and involvement is essential to holistically tackle risks posed by BYOD. 

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