Mitigating BYOD threats with secure communications

SPONSORED CONTENT: Gartner reports that 70% of on-the-road professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018

The consumerisation of IT has led to the rapid adoption of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) concept globally.

Increasing numbers of people are bringing their personal laptops, smartphones, tablets etc. into enterprise workspaces, where they can then access company applications, data and other resources.

In fact, Gartner reports that 70% of on-the-road professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018.

This is an astonishing statistic, and organisations are already reaping the benefits of BYOD. Forrester Research estimated that an employee's ability to work at any time, in any location with a personal device can save him or her up to an hour a week.

Furthermore, Mobile Business Insights states that enterprises can also experience cost savings by shifting the cost of procurement, service and device management from within the company to its employees. These are the sort of advantages that will certainly appeal to organisations, though risks also exist.

There have already been several cases of data breaches where a personal smartphone was lost or stolen, and then used by nefarious individuals to access company data and resources.

In some instances a device that was infected with malware led to a breach and loss of corporate data, and there have even been cases where an employee's family members have used the device, and mistakenly shared sensitive information.

The good news is these risks can be mitigated by working with reputed cybersecurity specialists to develop and roll out resilient security policies and solutions.

Specialist cybersecurity firms are able to help the organisation identity threats, vulnerability, assets, and risks, and sketch out appropriate security policies.

The BYOD policy should cover all current applications and systems, outline devices that are supported, set expectations properly, offer 100% clarity on what is expected of employees who wish to use their own devices, and provide training to employees that cover safe computing habits.

A secure communications suite can also be rolled  out, which will offer safe communications across any connected network or device. This is especially important considering that employees could use their devices to access company resources and information via insecure mobile or WiFi networks, which can put a firm's data at risk.

Secure communications can protect mobile voice and video communications, email, file sharing, and offer device management features.

For the suite to be effective, it should itself be secure and use a hardened operating system, and offer high security encryption for data, while packing memory and hardware level protection. Suites such as this can typically be managed in-house or management can be outsourced to a cybersecurity firm on a long-term basis.

The latter is useful considering the pace at which technology evolves - a new killer app or device could be just around the corner, which may invalidate your current BYOD policies and practices. Security should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a one-time fix.

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