Despite the surging popularity of high-tech mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in the workplace, business executives must be mindful of the data protection implications they present.
In recent years, smartphones and tablets have proven to be hugely beneficial to many businesses, especially in terms of the flexibility and productivity advantages these devices can afford. However, at the same time, many data security managers have expressed frustration with the security issues presented by these devices.
In a recent InformationWeek report, Adam Ely asserted that the prevalence of mobile devices in the workplace has led to significant data protection concerns, particularly when it comes to mobile applications. Because apps are generally "driven by server-side code," he said, they are often vulnerable to malicious coding and unauthorized intruders.
This concern was recently reflected in a report from Mformation, which discovered that 76 percent of surveyed CIOs said employee-owned mobile devices create security headaches in the workplace.
Nowhere is this more of an issue than with devices based on Google's Android mobile operating system. While Android's open source nature makes it an attractive platform for device manufacturers and app developers, it also tends to be more vulnerable to malicious coding than other mobile operating systems.
To counter this, Ely suggested that businesses include mobile apps in their standard data security policies. Just as most businesses have policies in place against visiting websites that may contain malicious content, so would it be wise to apply the same practices to mobile apps.
"In the 'there's an app for that' society, you're not a player unless you play in the mobile space," Ely wrote. "If you play insecurely, though, users may pass you by."
These concerns will be put to the test in coming months as Android continues to consume the mobile OS market. Several studies have shown that Android adoption is growing at a fast pace worldwide, including a recent report by Global Industry Analysts, which predicted that Android would account for nearly 500 million smartphone users by 2015.