Q

Data protection and security for mobile devices a growing concern

Paul Kirvan of Kirvan Associates discusses why data protection and security for mobile devices are growing in importance among IT professionals.

How important is data protection and security for mobile devices today? Is this still an overlooked area?

The use of mobile devices in IT environments is growing at a rapid rate, and has become an area of concern for IT security professionals. The growth of the BYOD (bring your own device) movement means that sensitive corporate information is increasingly being stored on personal mobile devices, which in itself is a potential security threat.

According to a 2013 report sponsored by CheckPoint Software and prepared by Dimensional Research, just over two-thirds of the organizations surveyed (67%) have devices owned personally by employees, contractors or others that connect to their corporate networks. Almost all survey respondents said that the number of mobile devices connecting to their networks had increased significantly.

The two main challenges to IT managers are securing the corporate information that often resides on personal mobile devices and tracking and controlling access to both corporate and private networks. A key finding in the report was that over 60% of the companies surveyed do not manage the corporate data that resides on mobile devices. Of the companies reporting that they have activities in place to ensure security for mobile devices, the techniques included an active-sync policy, mobile device management (MDM) tools and the use of secure containers.

The two potential security incidents of greatest concern to respondents were the loss of mobile devices and malware. According to the report, the cost of losses from incidents impacting security for mobile devices is expensive. Over three-quarters of the survey respondents (79%) reported mobile security incidents in the previous 12-month period.

In addition:

  • 52% of large companies said the average cost of mobile security incidents last year exceeded $500,000.
  • 45% of businesses with less than 1,000 employees reported mobile security incident costs exceeding on average $100,000.

(Source: The Impact of Mobile Devices on Information Security: A Survey of IT Professionals, Dimensional Research)

Clearly, IT security professionals face challenges in protecting their companies' information assets. This concern has grown significantly, especially with BYOD equipment, and will likely be an area of increased focus for IT managers and security professionals.

This was first published in June 2014

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