August 9, 2012

BYOD May Be More Costly, Insecure for Corporate Network

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

There's been a big push lately for companies to offer BYOD, or bring your own device, to employees. This means that an employee can select any smartphone from any carrier, and use it to connect to the corporate network. This is also true for iPads, tablets and other devices. Two reports released this week on the BYOD trend are making the news. "Mobile Security Strategies" released by Juniper Research forecasts the rate of BYOD to double. While 2012 BYOD Survey released by software firm Lieberman Software counters the argument that BYOD saves companies money and fosters a safe corporate network.

Juniper Research reports that 350 million employees will use their own devices for work by 2014, it states in an article on InformationWeek. That number is up from 150 million employees who currently use their own phones and tablets at the office. The BYOD practice has been touted as a way for companies to save money by forgoing the expense of buying a fleet of handsets for their employees. Letting employees maintain their own devices requires a certain level of security measures. That costs money, but also puts the company network at risk.

The Juniper Report calls the practice a "security nightmare." IT departments have to set up network security, help employees install the network and extra security measures on their handset, and then enforce those security measures. There is still time and money that needs to be allocated to keeping BYOB handsets and devices safe for the network.

The problems with BYOD practices are similar to the risks for employees to bring their own notebook to the office, or log into the intranet from home on a PC. The biggest issues are spam, malware and phishing. With BYOD the IT department has to worry about device loss. This is an issue with company-provided equipment, but if an employee loses a phone, company security might not be the first thing on his mind.

A survey of IT pros at InfoSec Europe 2012 in London conducted by Lieberman Software finds that most IT professionals believe BYOD practices cost more money for businesses, and many risk factors arise. The biggest headache, according to an article on Redmond Mag, is that enacting a BYOD policy would mean an increase in virus infections (43% of respondents). That would negate any cost-saving benefits to employees supplying their own mobile devices.

Of those surveyed by Lieberman Software, 67% believe BYOD actually increases costs; 23% believe it will reduce costs.

An increase in the likelihood an employee will cause a virus outbreak on the local network (43%); employee losing a device (26%); employee stealing data (22%) are the largest headaches.

Lieberman Software surveyed companies of various sizes. The make-up of respondents were from companies with more than 1,000 employees (48%); less than 100 employees (24%); between 101 and 500 employees (17%); and 501 and 1,000 employees (11%).

Lieberman Software sells products and services to help IT departments manage mobile devices.

Juniper Research also covers mCommerce in the Mobile Security Strategies report.