Securing the journey from mobile accessory to necessity

As mobile devices continue to proliferate companies need a strategy that allows employees to effectively use them in the workplace without compromising privacy.

A smartphone is no longer the symbol of a C-level executive; they exist for everyone. A flashy new handset is no longer a conversation starter; the discussion has evolved into what we are doing with these devices and how they make our lives easier.

Whether you are sitting at your desk or on a bus, the majority of people will be using their mobile device in some capacity. The line between our work and personal lives is now blurred thanks to the power of smartphones. According to local analyst firm Telsyte, there were 16 million smartphone users in Australia at the end of June and this is predicted to rise to 17.5 million by the year’s end.

It is clear that purchasing a mobile device is decreasingly an investment motivated by style or trend, but rather it is seen as a business and lifestyle necessity. The real challenge is now for businesses to accommodate employee smartphone use into their internal IT architecture. Extreme growth of mobile ownership goes hand-in-hand with an explosion of potential data security issues. If this isn’t addressed, employee smartphones will rapidly become portals for data breaches waiting to happen.

Using the devices without compromising privacy

Data leakage is a major issue for CEOs, and this is set to get more complex as mobile devices continue to proliferate. Companies need a strategy that allows employees to effectively use their own devices in the workplace without compromising privacy. They need to have the ability to contain corporate information on employee’s devices, thereby keeping the data secure and not infringing on personal use.

With such an abundance of device users, it would be fair to presume that the majority of people will attempt to access company data on their personal device. While Australian organisations are reasonably equipped in comparison to their global counterparts, with 44% currently supporting BYOD and another 34 per cent set to adopt within two years, more must be done to get this in place now. Smartphones inform, enable and equip people to work more efficiently; therefore, businesses must find a secure method for the two spheres to co-exist.

As smartphones become increasingly sophisticated and accessible across all price-points, security strategies must be a priority. The question dictating budgets and board meetings is, with 6.8 billion mobile phones in use, how can employees use the devices they want, in the way they want, without compromising security?

The difference between success and failure lies with how personal and professional data is managed. By separating corporate data into a secure container, management can rest assured that confidential material is protected. Such a strategy ensures the device ultimately belongs to the user, but the business data will always be contained.

As smartphones migrate from just existing in our personal lives, to being a tool at work, businesses must absolutely make it a priority to protect their data. Precedent has shown that individuals are not aware of the security implications of storing confidential information on their devices, so businesses must make steps to safeguard company data on any device and educate business users accordingly. The smartphone is no longer a lifestyle accessory; it is a business necessity and must be secured as such.

David Balazsy, vice president for Asia Pacific, Good Technology.

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