According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, 56 percent of adults in the United States are now smartphone owners. This is the first time that smartphone users have outnumbered feature phone users, and this will translate into increased smartphones in the work environment. So what is the impact on your business with this influx of smart devices?
The "iPass Mobile Workforce Report," released in June 2013, states that 62 percent of mobile workers are using personal devices for professional productivity. This means that more and more consumers are participating in the BYOD movement. The increased amount of smartphones also translates into additional bandwidth considerations for IT. Similar to corporate-issued laptops, mobile devices are used at work for recreational activities; however, because these devices are not issued by the company, many IT departments have no idea how many are accessing the network, what apps are being used and how much bandwidth is being consumed.
Lastly, many of these new devices are accessing corporate data. A survey released by the CTIA wireless association and conducted by Harris Interactive found that regardless of company policy regarding the use of personal devices, employees are using their own notebooks, smartphones and tablets to access work data. The top five information systems or applications accessed by employees are email accounts, calendars, databases, company apps and directories.
IT departments need to take control of what is happening and secure company assets/IP. Teams can develop and execute a strategy to allow a mixture of corporate and personally-owned devices onto the network, while putting controls in place that ensure data and network safety. Here are three steps to ensure protection of company data while maintaining privacy of the user's personal information on a mobile device:
- Create and publish a corporate mobile policy (utilize an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) kit to get started).
- Deploy a mobile device management (MDM) solution. This is a good first step to be able to manage the various devices on the corporate infrastructure.
- Protect your mobile workforce from advanced threats with a complete security solution, which protects users and the corporate network from malicious links, web attacks, exploits and more.
As the mobile workforce continues to grow, companies need to implement the same safeguards that have been implemented for their corporate networks and extend them to their mobile team. Other considerations include the balance that needs to be taken between ensuring the privacy of an individual's private property (e.g. photos, music) while protecting company resources.