BYOD Must Be Built on Trust

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Five Tips to Brave the BYOD Boom

Have you ever had employees who asked for better security practices? Well, apparently, now that more people are using their personally owned devices for work purposes, more security is what they want.


Juniper Networks just released its first Trusted Mobility Index, which found that people don't trust the mobile devices they are using. The survey, which interviewed over 4,000 IT decision-makers and mobile device users, showed that we want to use the rapidly changing technologies, but we don't have a lot of confidence in the security of those technologies. According to a release announcing the results, just 15 percent of respondents have a great deal of confidence in the security of their mobile devices and services, while the vast majority - 63 percent - are at a crossroads and simply do not know if they should trust that their mobile experiences are secure.


This uncertainty about security on mobile devices is causing a lot of angst in the IT world. As a cost-saving measure, employers are encouraging the concept of bring your own device (BYOD) and allowing employees to use their personally owned devices for business purposes (and as more than one person told me - many employers encourage this because they want to use their own iPads and phones). But, as PC World pointed out, of the 1,500 IT professionals surveyed:

... almost half these IT professionals are concerned about future data breaches related to BYOD mobile, not to mention how to support multiple device operating systems. Nine of 10 respondents in the survey said employers should provide the security necessary to protect their personal devices used for work.

It's an honest concern, as Juniper noted it had found over 8,000 new mobile malware samples in the first quarter of 2012. Most of that malware was found on the Android platform, but with the security holes popping up lately in the Apple OS, you can't really deem either platform as "safe and secure." While Blackberry has been a popular platform for business use, people are turning to Android and iOS for their personal devices.


One other thing that the survey pointed out that should be of interest to IT and security professionals: There is a serious "stealth use" problem when it comes to BYOD. According to the report, 41 percent of the respondents use their personal device for work use without telling their employers or without getting permission.


In my opinion, the Trusted Mobility Index really does boil down to trust - whether we can trust the technology of the devices to be secure (we can't) and whether we can trust employees to use their systems wisely when on the company network (as they aren't up front about use to begin with, again, we can't).


IT departments have an uphill battle to climb with this. There isn't a whole lot you can do about the technology side, but from the business side, departments can take steps to at least make sure employees are more honest about their BYOD use. Perhaps that first step is to let employees know the practice of BYOD is approved, and that the more the IT department knows about who is using their own device for work, the better the security can be for both the company and the personal user.

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