why security remains a key concern in the BYOD age

Individuals are using more mobile devices, applications, services and networks than ever before and they are accessing critical personal and professional information while “on the go”, but security fears are still dominant, according to Juniper Network’s Trusted Mobility Index,

The global survey of 4,037 mobile device users and IT decision-makers found mobile technology adoption is outpacing confidence, but despite this growth, consumer trust is uncertain.

It claims that all it would take is a single security vulnerability – real or perceived – for people to change their mobile behaviors or abandon certain mobile services altogether.

Nawaf Bitar, senior vice president of the security business unit at Juniper Networks, said: “The mobile revolution is unleashing massive opportunities, but our research shows we are at a critical turning point. The speed and scale at which mobile innovations can have a positive impact on society will depend on the industry’s ability to address new security vulnerabilities before they undermine people’s sense of safety. We must act now to protect and preserve trust in mobility.”

a global problem

In Juniper’s survey, just 20% of U.K. respondents had a great deal of confidence in the security of their mobile devices and services, while the vast majority – 60% – are at a crossroads and simply do not know if they should trust that their mobile experiences are secure. Along with the U.S. (22%) ,confidence is higher than in other markets, whereas only 4% of Japanese respondents have a great deal of confidence in their devices’ security.

Globally, three-quarters (76%) of mobile users access their banking or personal medical information while on the go, while 89% of respondents who use their personal devices for business purposes say they access sensitive work information. Further, the trend toward a “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) enterprise is creating new concerns for IT leaders, with nearly half of all respondents using their personal device for work (42% in the UK, 41% globally) without permission from their company.

Dan Hoffman, chief mobile security evangelist at Juniper Networks, added: “Building trust in mobility is just as important as building great networks and powerful applications. Creating a safer, more secure and trusted mobile experience requires a sustained, collective effort by mobile service providers, device manufacturers, software developers, networking companies and security experts.”

So, what are the best ways of tackling these fears? Here are some suggestions to help you on your way:

  • find the hidden costs of BYOD to make appropriate financial and risk decisions: As organizations weigh the costs and opportunities offered by BYOD compared to issuing company devices, they need to be aware of the hidden costs of BYOD - particularly within high-risk environments.
  • identify just how pertinent the consumerization of IT trend is to introducing new devices to the workspace: IT managers shouldn’t be grappling with BYOD policies, but should expect to see an explosion of different smartphones and tablets used by their workers in the next few years.
  • be aware of new attack methods like "Fake Installers": Educate users over how to spot risks, so that they are not unknowingly paying for pirated versions of popular applications that are normally free. Much like the look and feel of spam email, if it looks too good to be true, it generally is. The European Network Information and Security Agency (ENISA) has also published data detailing just how easy it is to unconsciously download a Trojan from an official appstore.
  • manage smartphone use carefully to avoid unwanted costs: In G Data’s latest Malware Report on current threats for Internet users and PCs, it warns: “Criminals are increasingly using SMS as a medium for payment services and they are thus becoming ever more attractive. In some countries, they can anonymously sign up for expensive premium SMS numbers and thus incur large phone bills from SMS subscriptions for victims.”
  • monitor social media carefully: In a recent M86 Security Labs Report, the security vendor warns that fake social media notifications are now a mainstream way for spammers to dupe users into clicking links which then spread virally by enticing users to share posts that promise gift cards or other rewards.
  • enforce smartphone security policies: A recent report by analysts Canalys found that 86% of SMEs have no company-wide smartphone security in place and therefore put sensitive data at risk, if handsets are lost or stolen. One wonders if larger enterprises are much better.

Does this survey reflect the issues you are trying to deal with in your everyday business? How big do you think this problem is set to become?


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Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.