If you're a business that isn't engaging with mobile technology in some way, then you're somewhat behind the times. These days, mobile solutions are everywhere – including the enterprise sphere. Today, it's not uncommon at all to log onto your company email via your tablet in the morning, then check up on some work correspondence through your smartphone over the weekend, just to make sure you're all caught up. Mobile technology, and its innovations to seamlessly integrate with everyday life tasks, has ensured that it will solidify a place in the office.
The cementing of mobility is only further advanced by Gen Y-ers, the individuals who fill workplaces the most now. With many of these people, technology was an integral part of their life from the time they were born, and mobile technology has been something that's grown up alongside them. This is why tech and mobile literacy is engrained in Gen Y-ers, whereas even Gen X-ers are characterized as being late to the tech party (case in point: all the viral Internet content about texts that parents send). In many ways, the proliferation of mobile tools is a great thing for the work place, since it's led to work being done faster and more efficiently. But it also brings up questions for companies about implementing a higher level of security. If businesses don't take the proper steps to securing the work from home generation, they significantly increase their chances of attack.
A look at the WFH generation
Whatever generation you want to term them – work from home, work from anywhere, bring your own device – it's clear that the young and highly mobile-dependent workers who dominate the workforce are changing the game as far as how – and where – work gets done. This change in work modes is reflective of a broader societal shift toward an ever-increasing reliance on mobility and the seeming freedom it offers. According to an industry report, global mobile use actually overtook traditional desktop use in 2014. These days, there's no competition – mobile clearly wins out. As different industry statistics pointed out, of the 5.6 daily hours that typical U.S. adult spends using digital media, 2.8 – or just over half – of those hours are spent with mobile tech (compared to 2.6 for computers/laptops).
Gen Y-ers are the main drivers of mobile tech. In terms of age groups that own smartphones, they represent the biggest chunk. But it's not only that millennials are prolific mobile users – increasingly, members of the mobile generation are playing a pivotal role in the development of mobile technology and apps. Popular apps like Snapchat are the work of enterprising millennial (those who were young adults around the new millennium), and young people understandably look to mobile technology as their terrain. After all, they know how to use it the best, and they're the ones who are really at the forefront of its advancement.
That the mobile generation also happens to be the most important generation in the global workforce right now means that offices – whether they're ready or not – are confronting mobility as it extends to the workplace. In the U.S. alone, there are 3.7 million employees who are certifiably members of the work from home workforce (i.e. they WFH more than 50 percent of the time). And while telecommuting is largely seen as a new – and therefore millenial-centric – movement, the reality is that the average telecommuter isn't a member of Gen Y, and is instead a 49 year old, as Global Workplace Analytics reported. Beyond working from home, there are many other ways that mobility is making its presence known in companies across industries. These days, employees expect to be able to use their own mobile devices for business work, since it's something that can significantly heighten the convenience of daily work. Here are some of the BYOD statistics that prove that the movement is absolutely here to stay:
- Seventy-four percent of enterprises out there already deploy or are actively conceptualizing BYOD in their workspace, as Tech Pro Research revealed. This statistic is made even more impressive when you consider that BYOD as a movement has only been around since 2009. To have grown from a new movement into something that's deployed in three-quarters of offices attests to what a transformative impact BYOD is having.
- Cloud growth is a huge thing among businesses, with companies across industries and sizes virtualizing key functionalities. With the push toward virtualization, enabling and seamlessly integrating mobile-fueled workplace technology is becoming easier than ever.
- Apart from employees wanting BYOD, it's also very good for business, as TechRadar contributor and industry worker David Langhorn pointed out: "By embracing new and better ways of working, and by leveraging both fixed and mobile technology, companies can unearth even greater opportunities for efficiency within areas such as frontline workers, customer service or in the reduction of office space," Langhorn stated. "This is a trend that is set to increase throughout 2015 as businesses of all kinds continue to look for ways to drive efficiencies, as economic conditions continue to be tough."
He added that this hunt for efficiency is what's truly fueling the BYOD movement: "2015 will see a significant increase in demand – and hence investment – amongst IT leaders, from businesses of every size, for technology which supports a maturing BYOD environment and mobile workforce whilst ensuring optimal security."
Between BYOD, WFH, and the mobile dependence of the current and rising generation of workers, companies are facing an unprecedented wave of mobility. This demands a security response that's suited for the times.
For enterprises, a need to keep up
With workplace mobility being deployed across industries, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to keep pace as far as defending the WFH generation. After all, while mobility is a great thing for business, it can be a great movement for hackers to take advantage of as well. Because of the heightened vulnerability that mobility brings, companies need to devise a more advanced approach to cyber security for the work from anywhere generation. Fortunately, a recent Guardian article tackled that exact topic. Here are some of the top pointers made in the article regarding what organizations need to do to secure the mobile generation of workers:
- Explain the threat atmosphere to employees: For an employee working in a company that allows him or her to use a personal mobile device – or work remotely – it's not the job of the staffer to stay up-to-date on every major cyber threat. Instead, the onus lies with the organization to ensure that each staff member has a solid sense of the security vulnerabilities they face, particularly when using mobile devices. For instance, in a BYOD-enabled enterprise, companies need to emphasize to all workers that bad – and common – practices like not using unique passwords across different accounts and clicking on email links indiscriminately regardless of the sender need to be eliminated.
- Implement specifically-tailored mobile tools: Of course, merely telling employees to be safe and outlining the behaviors by which they can ensure optimal mobile device safety is hardly a fool-proof solution when it comes to businesses guarding the WFH generation. That's why companies need to take the additional – and absolutely vital – step of rolling out cyber security tools which are uniquely designed to handle mobility. After all, a typical antivirus package that companies use on their desktop computers won't have the same efficacy on, say, a worker's tablet. It's important, therefore, to not only have cyber security software in place, but to choose packages that accommodate the specific device spread of your business.
- Don't treat mobile security as a one-time deal: Admittedly, it'd be great to roll out a mobile security solution – one that encompasses BYOD and remote work – and then look at it and say, "Well, work accomplished!" But unfortunately, that's not how cyber protection works. One of the key characteristics among hackers is their adaptability: They identify new defensive guards that businesses are putting up and look for ways to circumvent those. It's this advanced ability to evolve that makes the cyber criminals of today a more formidable threat than they were, say, ten years ago. For companies looking to defend the WFH generation, what the adaptable advancement of hackers means is that mobile security is never something you can afford to become complacent about. Just as hackers are looking for the next way to exploit a company's network via its remote workers, so should businesses be exploring methods of better defending its staffers from this same threat. In order to find an adaptable solution, it's best to look for a service provider that has a demonstrated history of adapting seamlessly to the threat atmosphere of the moment and providing its users with the most up-to-date solutions possible.
Just as the way people work is evolving, so are the methods used by hackers. With the remote workforce increasing and malicious strains growing in sophistication, the responsibility falls on enterprises to protect all users.