Mobility is now an integral part of an overall IT strategy, especially as employees continue to demand the ability to use personal computing gadgets in the workplace. However, many IT departments and decision-makers may be unaware that these programs, which often improve employee satisfaction and productivity, also invite new risks that were previously not part of the IT security plan. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly susceptible to these new perils.
According to a four-month-long study by Mobilisafe, SMBs have a high risk of exposing data security vulnerabilities through their increasing use of mobile gadgets in the workplace. IT departments in these companies cannot keep up with the rate at which these hazards are discovered, causing the organization to remain vulnerable through an unknown number of weaknesses in the corporate network.
A lack of data security standards also prevents IT departments from addressing vulnerabilities. Since there are so many new operating systems and device types being introduced to the workforce, IT professionals cannot mitigate risks as well as they can with traditional desktops and servers, which have standardized security approaches, Mobilisafe noted.
SMBs also lack the confidence they need to address the increasing threat landscape. According to the report, most SMB decision-makers feel they don't have the appropriate resources or tools to reduce risk during BYOD (bring your own device) and other mobile strategy deployments.
"We now have definitive data that SMBs are exposed to vulnerability risk from mobile devices being used for work," Mobilisafe chief executive officer Giri Sreenivas said.
Nearly three-quarters of devices analyzed in the study contained highly vulnerable operating systems and applications. Meanwhile, new weaknesses were discovered, on average, every 1.6 days, which is four times more often than in 2011, Mobilisafe reported. To reduce this risk, SMB IT departments need to deploy firewall updates and strengthen encryption, among other measures.
A major problem that many SMBs face is employee negligence. According to a recent study by Websense, more than half of all employees tend to circumvent basic security protocol to utilize personal electronics in the office, often inviting new malware infections that traditionally were unable to the penetrate network.
If smaller organizations wish to remain competitive with larger firms by adopting mobile strategies, decision-makers need to ensure employees know how to properly use personal gadgets in the office and that network security capabilities are up to date.
Consumerization News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro