The growing headache of protecting mobile devices

33 per cent of UK organizations foresee the protection of mobile devices in the workplace to be the biggest security headache they will encounter in the year ahead, according to a survey by McAfee.

The survey, which questioned 100 IT professionals from UK organizations, found that when it comes to enterprise security, businesses will be most concerned with the influx of mobile devices entering the workplace over the coming months. This ranked higher than securing IT in the cloud (19 per cent) and protecting the organization’s reputation (13 per cent).

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) schemes have become increasingly prevalent in most businesses worldwide, as employees look to use their own personal devices in a business context. When asked if employees valued certain devices over others, 89 per cent of those surveyed claimed this was the case.

The laptop was seen as the most valued device (31 per cent) followed closely by the personal tablet (24 per cent) and personal mobiles (18 per cent). Interestingly, PCs, work-owned mobiles and work-owned tablets all ranked lower.

With work-issued devices being less valued, the security of data on these devices may be at risk due to loss or theft, poor password protection or data breaches.

While it’s evident that employees want the same experience of technology in the workplace as they currently have in their personal lives, not all businesses are in favor. 35 per cent of those questioned stated their organization does not currently allow personal devices to connect to the corporate network.

A further 33 per cent said that only certain, approved devices were allowed to connect to the company’s server. Shockingly, 11 per cent welcomed all devices into the workplace without thought to device protection. Only 19 per cent of organizations allowed all devices to have access to company data and proactively implemented real-time security monitoring of these devices.

“The consumerization of IT has undoubtedly changed today’s concept of working practices and businesses need to acknowledge and respond to the appetite that employees have for using personal devices such as smartphones and tablets in the workplace,” said Raj Samani, VP and CTO EMEA at McAfee. “Failure to do so could mean that corporate data is unwittingly left up for grabs in cyber space and the bad guys won’t be slow to take advantage of this fact.”

“Rather than fight against the tide, organizations should embrace the use of these devices and work alongside staff to ensure that comprehensive IT policies and best practice guidelines are put in place to assist and inform employees about how their devices should be used. End-point protection for these devices is also crucial if businesses want to safeguard employees against an ever-changing, increasingly sophisticated threat landscape.”

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