Small- and medium-sized businesses are facing the struggles of a constantly changing technical landscape: they must provide the latest and greatest devices to their employees in order to stay competitive, and at the same time figure out how to do this with smaller budgets.
One solution to this dilemma has been for companies to establish a BYOD (bring your own device) policy that allows employees to use their own mobile phones and tablets while doing work remotely.
But while BYOD has allowed more employee freedom in terms of how and where they get work done, it’s also created huge security challenges.
Security Pitfalls and Unknowns of BYOD
Many companies do not even know what or how their BYOD users are accessing company data, and so do not have an accurate picture of what risks they are up against. According to Lookout’s Enterprise Mobile Threats Report for 2014, “many organizations do not yet understand the extent of their mobile risk profile because they lack deep visibility into the security status of mobile devices connecting to their networks and databases.”
Lookout’s report goes on to mention that the risks to the company could come from any connected device: “any one device could harbor a serious threat, which underscores the need for strong mobile threat protection across all devices that touch an organization.”
The Alarming Truth about Public WiFi and Employee Behavior
Mobile employees are connecting to public WiFi. According to GFI Software, 95.6% of train, bus or subway commuters in the U.S. put company data at risk over free public WiFi. And they aren’t taking precautions. A study done by Kaspersky Labs, revealed that 60% of public WiFi users do not take appropriate precautions when accessing public WiFi, and a large percentage do not even password protect their device.
Recently, at a security conference in Sweden, a young security expert named Gustav Nipe set up a rogue access point to illustrate workers’ lax security standards when it comes to WiFi. Over 100 computer security experts and journalists connected to it the network. In a whitehat demonstration, Nipe was able to collect data on all of them, and then revealed what he found to the public. This stunt demonstrates that workers should do better when it comes to securing their mobile device and protecting sensitive company information.
VPNs: The Answer to BYOD Insecurity
It’s clear that the era of BYOD is here to stay. Workers are no longer confined to an office desk and computer, and instead are able to do work from anywhere: home, their local coffee shop, and while taking public transportation. The proliferation of public wireless networks has made this possible, and while this has freed employees up to do work from nearly everywhere, it also has introduced many security challenges.
Luckily, there’s something easy for employees to use and companies to implement that can easily protect everything they do and access on their mobile devices. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) like PRIVATE WiFi protects all data going into and out of a mobile device by encrypting it, which means it prevents any hacker who may be trying to access confidential company information..