Businesses at Risk from Employee Use of Mobile Devices to Access Company Networks

Many employees now use mobile devices to access their company's network. But, what happens if those devices are lost, stolen or resold to others outside the company? Could sensitive data be compromised?

The risks may be greater than you think.

Earlier this month, Motorola announced that approximately 100 out of a batch of 6,200 Xoom tablets that were refurbished by Motorola Mobility may not have been completely cleared of the original owner's data prior to resale. An earlier analysis found that more than half of 50 mobile phones purchased from second-hand resellers on eBay contained personal data left over from their original owners.

New research from Mobilisafe, a Seattle-based mobile security company, reveals just how widespread employee mobile device use is and how little oversight IT departments are exercising particularly at resource-constrained small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

For the study, employees at SMBs agreed to help evaluate a product that provides visibility to all mobile devices accessing their company's network. Then, over the course of three months, Mobilisafe mapped more than 38 million employee mobile device connections, providing key data for its analysis. The interim results from the beta trial showed that:

On average, more than 80 percent of the employees are already using smartphones and tablets.

A new device model was introduced to a company for every 6.6 employees.

56 percent of iOS devices were running out-of-date firmware.

39 percent of total authenticated devices were inactive for more than 30 days, prompting concerns and conversations with employees about lost, sold or otherwise misplaced devices with employee credentials and sensitive corporate data.

Clearly, this is an area where businesses of all sizes need to direct more focus. No one expects the "bring your own device" (BYOD) trend to slow down any time soon, so companies need to fully recognize the risks involved and address them accordingly.

TAGS: Finance
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