Organizations must ensure mobile security as BYOD adoption increases

October 25, 2012

More companies are embracing the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement as an alternative for employees to conduct business. Using the cloud, workers can access important documents and respond to emails from anywhere on their smartphones and tablets. However, as more institutions create BYOD policies, some are failing to implement security measures for data protection.

IT staffs fail to develop security plans
According to a recent study conducted by Ovum, the majority of 4,000 polled professionals (70 percent) said they used smartphones to access sensitive data. However, 80 percent of those personal devices were not properly managed by IT departments. A separate report by internet security company SANS showed that one-third of 650 polled IT professionals did not have proper network security policies in place and failed to use anti-malware software. This lack of management is leaving businesses at risk and providing hackers with a window to breach an institution's system.

After surveying professionals about their organizations, Ovum found that over half of IT departments that work for respondents' employers were not familiar with BYOD, or were ignoring the growing trend, while about 8 percent of business owners prohibited BYOD in the office, the source reported.

Because many believe that using mobile devices is the future of business, it is troubling that IT departments are not taking action and planning for risks, said Richard Absalom, a senior analyst at Ovum.

Measures to protect mobile devices
As personal smartphones and tablets become more functional for company use, it is crucial that owners install proper preventative measures to ensure data protection. Investing in mobile management software is one step more employers are taking to protect materials. According to a recent Gartner report, 65 percent of organizations will adopt mobile device management (MDM) solutions in the next few years to keep data safe.

Experts also agree that the best form of security is to employ password protections - each passcode should contain at least 8 characters using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Workers should also consider encrypting documents stored on their phones as a form of data loss prevention to inhibit hackers.

Workers should install security applications to monitor apps and ensure that new downloads do not contain malware. When browsing the internet or reading emails on a smartphone, employees should be trained not to click on suspicious links or open attachments. 

-McAfee Cloud Security