A new trend is quickly gaining ground in the business IT environment: many employees are using their personal devices at work.
The concept is called “BYOD”, short for “Bring Your Own Device”, and refers to employees who bring their own smartphones and other mobile devices to their workplace to connect to the corporate network and perform their work-related duties from them. This practice, however, extends the mobile security risks and concerns, from the employee to the employer.
The BYOD concept is not really news. It emerged a few years ago, when the app-centric smartphone triggered a revolution in the mobile technology. People saw the advantage of using one device for several purposes – staying connected with other people on social networks, storing important documents, accessing sensitive information, e-mailing, banking and more – and the convenience of using it for personal and work-related purposes. They were looking at an all-in-one convenient tool to perform whatever task – fast, easy, anytime and anywhere. As a consequence, smartphones are now the most preferred type of device to use for work. But some people also opt to bring in their own laptops and tablets.
More devices brought to work, more mobile security concerns for companies
According to industry data the number of organizations that have permitted employees to use their own devices at work has grown from 10% to more than 80% (Aberdeen Research, July 2012, Enterprise Mobility Management 2012: the Global Perspective study), while 41% of mobile owners use their personal mobile device for business purposes without company support (Juniper Networks, Trust in Mobility study, May 2012). Also, employees who engage in this practice work at least one additional hour per week.
While this practice may appear to fully favour the employer, it is not entirely so. If the employee’s mobile device doesn’t have effective mobile security software on it, the event of loss, mobile malware infection or damage of the device could affect company’s data security. So this practice gives IT departments considerably less control over the hardware used in the company. Which is why companies have started to adopt BYOD policies, regulating the use of personal devices for businesses purposes.
Do you BYOD? More reasons for you to get proper mobile security
Mobile malware is at its highest peak and has been seriously affecting mobile users by stealing their identities, banking credentials, and other personal data, as well as controlling their devices to perform certain actions behind their backs – sending SMSs to premium numbers etc. Do you store important work-related files on your mobile device or send work e-mails from it? Just imagine losing them in a malware attack or contracting mobile spyware that can transfer your e-mails to interested third-parties. Cybercrooks can now develop all kinds of malicious and turn your device into a real corporate espionage tool.
What can you do to protect your personal and work-related affairs, besides following the company’s BYOD policy – in case there is one in place? Here’s some advice:
- First off, be wary of connecting to public Wi-fi networks. Cybercrooks can easily intercept login credentials to your personal/professional accounts via an unsecured Wi-fi hotspot. Also, keep your Bluetooth turned off, or any other type of connection when you don’t use them.
- Download apps from reputable sites only – preferably the official app store of the mobile platform your device runs on. Look for the app developer’s name and make sure it’s trustworthy. Also, look for reviews of the app and ratings from other users.
- Always read the permission requests before downloading a new app and make sure they match the app’s features.
- Install proper mobile security software that comes with mobile antivirus, antispyware and antitheft features to protect your device and the data on it from theft, loss and damage. BullGuard Mobile Security 10 comes with such features and more. You can also opt for BullGuard Mobile Backup 12 to keep all your data, personal and work-related, safe online and remotely access from any other device.
- In case you detect suspicious activity on your mobile device (battery rapidly running low, apps installed without your knowledge etc.), contact an IT expert, preferably from work. They should be able to identify the issue and give you some mobile security advice as well.
- Always apply caution and common sense and try to stay abreast of the latest mobile security issues. Start by checking out BullGuard’s infographic on mobile security threats, Mobile Malware – What you need to know.
So, to BYOD, but taking security measures first!