"Bring your own device" is all the rage in the enterprise
today, but could companies that tap the mobile
trend be compromising security
? They may indeed be, according to the latest quarterly iPass Mobile Workforce Report.
It's not difficult to see why companies would shift to BYOD. According to the iPass report, 18 percent of mobile workers say they now pay for their smartphone service plan. That's up 6 percent from a year ago.
But in many cases, iPass reports, corporate security measures haven't kept pace with BYOD changes. For example, only 74 percent of mobile workers said their company required security features on their mobile devices.
Why Are Employees Skirting Security?
By the same token, the simple security measure of remote resetting or wiping a mobile device is notably absent, or at least not activated, on mobile workers' devices. Only 55 percent of mobile workers told iPass they had remote wipe enabled on their smartphones and only 30 percent activated this security feature on their tablets.
But just why are mobile workers skirting IT security requirements on their mobile phones? In two words: flexibility and efficiency. According to iPass, mobile employees' desires to work flexibly and efficiently compel some of them to bypass their IT departments -- and those workers who ignore IT directives said they do so because of slow response times and overly strict policies.
This corporate IT rule-skirting sometimes extends to accessing corporate data via workarounds. The iPass report reveals that one out of four mobile workers is using workarounds on their smartphones and 12 percent on their tablets. iPass predicts that number will rise as the BYOD trend spreads and IT departments' control over devices features further recedes.
Finally, mobile workers have implemented passcode locks more than other security measures, according to iPass. Three out of four workers in the survey said they use passcodes on their smartphones and more than 40 percent use them on their tablets.
The Cost to Companies
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told us employees who sidestep IT are creating significant exposure for their companies. He knows of one case where employees were fired as a result of breaches.
"Employees are taking risks and there are repercussions if data gets compromised," Enderle said. "That's why there's a fairly massive drive to find and recommend systems that are more secure or to use technologies like desktop virtualization to secure the data at the back end."
Enderle also suggested the number of employees who skirt IT security on their mobile devices may be even higher than the survey suggests. That's because many times employees won't answer honestly for fear of getting into trouble.
"The problem is very pronounced and it's creating a tremendous amount of concern but there's little IT until there's a major breach," Enderle said. "If there is a massive breach and a lot of people are fired at once the problem tends to be self-correcting. But whatever companies get hit with a particular breach, clearly their costs are going to be extreme."