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Using your smartphone & apps for work? You could be a threat to data security

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The line between work and play is blurring, and it’s causing employers to worry that their employee’s smartphones and tablets are threatening corporate security. That’s the message from a Citrix study released last week.

The study looked at the increasing trend of employees using their own smart devices and apps for work-related tasks across Europe. It found that over 90% of organisations have noticed employees using third party apps on their personal devices to conduct work activities.

While employees might feel they are becoming more efficient employers are becoming increasingly concerned that such employee behaviour could lead to legal issues. The report found that 54% of companies worry about maintaining data privacy requirements with such behaviour. Some 27% worry about maintaining compliance mandates.

38% of employers fear losing control over data.

In the UK alone, only 26% of companies said they have evaluated the outcomes of employees’ Bring Your Own (BYO) device activities. The apps in question are some of the most popular on the market, including cloud storage (such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Apple’s iCloud); Calendar apps; VoiP apps, such as Skype; email apps; document editing apps; and note taking apps, such as Evernote.

Grace O’Rourke Veitch, Country Manager for Ireland at Citrix Systems says that there needs to be a balance between employees’ needs to easily access data and employers’ needs to manage company data.

Organisations need to instil policies to closely manage the apps being introduced by employees…and then introduce technology that allows those apps to follow them, safely, to any device, wherever they are.

Adopting ‘follow me data’ solutions, for example, that provide IT departments with complete control over employee data and apps is an integral step to take as it becomes the norm for employees to access the network anywhere, on any device.

Citrix’s view is echoed by David Gorodyansky, the CEO of the VPN encryption service AnchorFree, who says both employees and employers need to take responsibility for data privacy and security on mobile devices, including laptops.

Speaking to this site in September David said that the threat of data loss does not just come from misplaced devices or hackers;

“But let’s put hackers aside; as you browse the web third parties are collecting everything you’re doing and selling it. So, you have the risk of hackers taking your identity and private data and you have the risk of third parties reselling your information.

Companies can lose a ton of data, anything an employee does [with their device] essentially. If an employee is uploading files, or if employees are communicating internally, all that data can be easily compromised unless it’s encrypted.”

Citrix’s study was conducted by an independent body and includes data from a representative sample of over 1,900 senior IT decision-makers from 19 countries. Some 75% of respondents were from companies with more than 1,000 employees the remaining 25% were from companies with between 500 and 999 employees.

1 Comment

  1. […] Emphasis on consumer security and mobile devices tend to be focused on the impact of consumers.  The problem with only considering this aspect and not a broader picture is that consumers also work for or interact with brands, on and off the clock.  This internal audience is using smart phones to increase productivity through apps that allow drop box sharing, editing, and note taking (example: Evernote). While these apps have helped to increase productivity and bridge the gaps between global offices, they also provide data security concerns. […]

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).