BYOD Has Its Risks

Thursday, December 8, 2011, 3:10 PM

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It's a fact.  Most IT Departments let anyone "bring their own device" or BYOD to work.  It started with the C-level group using iPhones.  Then, Android Phones became prevalent, powerful, and cheap. And, iPads and Android tabs are gaining momentum, either replacing a laptop or being used in addition to it.

Everybody's got a cool smart phone or tablet now and the ratio of these devices to PCs is going upside down.  In fact, one of the IBM creators of the first PC was quoted recently as saying “the PC is essentially dead, going the way of the typewriter and incandescent light bulbs. (Source: “With Spinoff, HP Looks Like IBM in 2005, Wall Street Journal, Aug 19, 2011).

The problem is that IT can't keep up with the cost of ongoing phone upgrades, increasing data costs, provisioning of duplicate devices for employees, data security risks and, more importantly, with the day-to-day management of these additional phones and tablets.  The tools to manage en masse are not here yet.

One glaring security challenge for IT is this… 82% of Small-Medium Businesses (SMBs) and 66% of large enterprises allow non-IT managed devices to access corporate resources. (Source: iPass Mobile Enterprise Report.)  That fact means your company data is at risk of loss.

Other security risks for mobile devices include malware and malicious apps.  Malware can infect your phone when you visit infected web sites -- which lead to data loss. Malicious apps can undermine other services on your phone, for example, to run up your text messaging count or costs.

Mobile viruses are not prevalent today due to the nature of mobile operating systems (the OS is very closed in the case of iOS and very open in the case of Android).

As time goes on, solutions for mobile protection and management will evolve and mature, to keep up with demand. The mobile security market is estimated to be in the multi-billion range and that means things are going to get exciting and tools are going to be here soon.

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.


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