Most companies see the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, where employees use their personal mobile devices for work purposes, as a growing threat to business. Yet, the percentage of companies taking measures to minimise this threat is relatively small, according to the results of the Global Corporate IT Security Risks 2013 survey, conducted by B2B International in collaboration with Kaspersky Lab.
This survey involved interviews with representatives of companies in 24 countries, including South Africa.
Respondents in Japan expressed the most concern about this growing trend and its associated threats: 93% agreed that BYOD is a threat to their businesses. Companies in North America (69%) also voiced a high level of concern, as did those in the Middle East (65%), South Africa (75%) and Western Europe (62%). Russian companies were the least concerned, with 57% of participants acknowledging any threat posed by a BYOD policy.
At the same time, most companies do not plan to introduce any prohibitive measures against the use of personal devices at the workplace. On the contrary, about 21% of respondents locally said they plan to encourage the use of personal smartphones and tablets at work, while another 34% said they did not believe that prohibitive measures would prevent employees from using their own devices.
Nevertheless, the percentage of companies planning to restrict the use of personal devices for work purposes is on the rise: the number of respondents reporting plans to impose restrictions was up globally from 19% in 2012 to 25% in 2013, while in South Africa the figure is 30%.
The percentage of companies planning to impose more stringent restrictions against the use of personal devices at work is unchanged from last year, at 10% globally – it is 14% in South Africa.
It’s easy to see why there are growing business concerns about threats posed by mobile devices: the survey also shows that the improper use of these devices is a frequent cause of IT security incidents, resulting in the loss of critical company data. Nearly 20% of respondents in South Africa said their companies had suffered confidential data leaks through mobile email clients, text messaging, and other channels available to smartphone and tablet owners.
But comparatively few companies are adopting specialised software products to protect themselves against such threats. Around 47% of companies in South Africa are using antivirus solutions to integrate, protect and manage mobile devices on the corporate network, and only 18% use Mobile Device Management solutions.
As BYOD becomes more commonplace and the number of incidents involving mobile devices grows, ensuring the centralised management of these devices and keeping them secure has become an important and relevant need. It is equally important that the solutions performing these functions are easy to use, easy to manage, and easy to integrate into the corporate network.