As advanced mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, continue to play a growing role in the lives of employees, the need for enterprise IT departments to secure these devices is becoming increasingly evident.
According to a recent report by research firm Strategy Analytics, the majority – 61 percent – of U.S. corporations now support tablet use in the workplace. While some businesses supply these devices, many subscribe to what the research firm calls the “Bring Your Own Device,” or BYOD, approach.
Undoubtedly, tablets in the workplace present a number of benefits – the chief among them being increased productivity. Tablets are significantly more portable than laptops, and while they lack traditional keyboards, they can be hugely beneficial when a task needs to be accomplished on the fly. So, assuming an employee can refrain from playing Angry Birds all day, there are obvious perks to using the technology in the workplace.
However, at the same time, many IT professionals have complained that this new technology presents security challenges. In another recent study by mobile device management technology provider Mformation, 76 percent of surveyed CIOs said employee-owned devices in the workplace creates “security headaches.”
The main cause of concern, the study found, is that most IT managers don’t know which devices are accessing company information. As a result, companies’ may be in danger of exposing sensitive corporate data without even knowing it.
Additionally, there are challenges with lost or stolen devices. Because many employee-owned devices are not approved for work-related tasks, they may not be equipped with the necessary security tools, such as data wiping or remote locking, to protect information on a missing device.
These concerns are, indeed, warranted, as a separate report by FuzeBox found 20 percent of tablet owners have used their devices to transfer sensitive information for business or professional use. Meanwhile, 14 percent of smartphone users have done the same.
Even as these challenges prevail, Strategy Analytics noted that more mobile security solutions are being introduced that allow IT managers to protect their information.
“BYOD is driving the need for secure converged fixed mobile access … and integrated IT management,” said Strategy Analytics director Andrew Brown. “This may appear to be the IT manager’s nightmare scenario, but improved managed mobile service tools offered by vendors, ISVs and mobile carriers are bringing these devices under full IT control for the first time.”