Mobile security threats cause confusion

UK and US businesses are in a state of uncertainty around if, and how, to protect their networks against the threats brought about by mobile devices entering the workplace.

According to research by Tenable Network Security, both nations strongly agreed that mobile devices pose a significant threat to their business (UK: 93%, US: 96%). Despite this however, a high proportion of each nation said they had no clear way of identifying “known’ mobile threats that could be attacking their network (UK: 44%, US: 47%).

A national divide becomes apparent when looking at how respondents were controlling the connection of their employee’s own devices to the network. 63% of UK businesses have a defined written policy around Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which employees followed, whereas only 22% of Americans could say the same.

The research, undertaken at two major security events in the US and UK – RSA Conference 2012 and Infosecurity Europe – revealed that 31% of US businesses did have BYOD policies in place but their employees actively ignored it.

The countries agreed that mobile security held an “important’ place on their priority lists for 2012 – 60% of UK respondents and 55% of Americans – with over a third of both nations regarding it as their “top’ security priority. However, 35% of US companies and 22% of British organizations were not controlling mobile device usage on their network at all.

“There seems to be a contradictive disconnect between the perceived mobile threat, and the actions being taken by businesses on both sides of the pond,” said Ron Gula, CEO and CTO at Tenable Network Security.

“Despite the UK having a slight step up on US firms, with more employees acknowledging the BYOD policies in place, many of the figures remain worrying. Smart devices entering the workplace represent a combination of opportunity and threat; so organizations must understand the bigger picture of where information rests and flows within the network.

“When it comes to mobile security, all smartphones and tablets share a common set of challenges: they carry lots of data; they are often riding around in someone’s pocket where they can be easily misplaced; they transfer data over a network that can be intercepted; and they run applications that may or may not be well written. Placing important data on a mobile device where it’s easy to lose, steal, or rootkit offers the same problem as uncontrolled laptops, only worse.”

“The IT network management environment is only going to become more complex and challenging, both internally and externally – so businesses must ensure that they can see what’s happening at every moment before something happens that they weren’t expecting.”

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