There are security risks associated with the current Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend. These are associated most commonly with mobile devices – the most common device employees bring to the office. On the one hand, BYOD is decidedly a strength. Extending the technology of the company inside the office (at no additional cost), and enabling the employee to remain connected remotely are two welcome strengths!
The weakness is that the smallest of devices can cause the biggest of problems. Well known anti-virus company, Trend Micro, recently published a white paper titled, 5 Mobile Security Risks Every Small Business Should Know About. They make the point that devices brought into the company network creates a hole through which the cybercriminal can follow.
Of course, the specific threat is when the device joins the company network. If it stays in your purse or pocket, used only for personal calls and browsing, no harm can come – to the company. But most mobile devices are set up to find a WiFi network and connect automatically once set up. As you move from location to location, your smartphone finds the network where it is welcome and connects. Without a word to you or anyone else.
One of the reasons this is a concern is the projected growth of the number and nature of these devices. Their number is increasing as more people are connected. But it is the nature of the devices that is especially of interest. The capability of consumer mobile devices to be useful in the business environment is growing and even merging with business rated devices. How much easier to accomplish the business task – whether mapping a business trip, or researching a competitor or prospect, or setting up and tracking travel – with one’s own mobile device than with the stationary business laptop or desktop.
Take the time to consider the security risks your device may cause. To know in advance what to expect makes you more prepared to prevent problems before they arise. Forewarned is forearmed.
- Growing Trend – The trend to bring personal devices – mobile phones, laptops, tablets – to work, connecting them to the company network, is an inevitable and growing trend. You can already see the move away from desktop computers and local storage devices. The trend toward smaller and more powerful is moving toward the ultralight laptops, tablets and mobile phones, all merging into one super-device combination.
- Greater Risk – There are more Android devices sold – 400 million – presenting the devious a larger target to attack. Amazingly, only 20% of Android-based devices have security apps installed. 80% are vulnerable. Cybercriminals will always target the popular platform as presenting more potential victims. The most recent evaluation shows cybercriminals paying more attention to mobile devices and especially to the Android OS with over 129,000 malicious apps created to target Android users..
- Good Data – Think contacts. While you may think of your personal contacts on your mobile phone, there is mixed in with the personal the business. Business contacts and data find their way onto your mobile device. The same mobile convenience which makes your device a take-it-everywhere habit lends greater ease to the device being stolen. The FCC chairman has pointed out that “30 to 40% of all robberies in major U.S. cities” are smartphones and cellphones. Good data in the wrong hands is bad.
- Grasping Reach – Cybercriminals have expanded their reach by targeting mobile devices. Once your device is infected there is that period of time before you discover what’s going on when you have unwittingly given access to personal and company information to thieves. Cybercriminals go where the greatest profit to them through damage to you and your company can be done.
- General Direction – It makes sense to learn as much as you can. Do you have an Android based phone? Does it connect to your company network? Even if you are not Android based OS, you should still know whether your device has access to your company network through an automatic WiFi connection. What company data do you have on your device? Have you thought through the steps you’d take if your device was lost, stolen or damaged? Do you know how to regain data or even locate your phone?
Bringing your own device is a great help and a big convenience. Work together with your employer to keep the company network, and the data on it, safe.