In theory, mobile device management should be a slam dunk in terms of creating opportunities for IT service providers. But, in reality many of the mobile devices that attach themselves to corporate networks are owned by employees who are generally reluctant to let the companies they work for have access to their devices.
In fact, a new survey of 2,242 end users and IT managers conducted by Bitglass, a provider of data protection software, finds that even IT managers don’t want to allow the companies they work for to have access to their mobile computing devices.
Opting out of BYOD programs
A full 57 percent of employees and 38 percent of IT professionals are choosing not to participate in their company’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program because they don’t want their employer’s IT department to have visibility into their personal data and applications. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of employees said they would not participate in a program in which their employer had the ability to wipe their personal mobile device. In addition, 40 percent of security administrators have chosen not to participate in the BYOD program that they're enforcing.
The simple fact is that a large percentage of the population doesn't trust the intentions of the people they work for every day. The problem is that even though many employees don’t want to opt into a BYOD program, the vast majority of employees are still using those devices to access applications and files on the corporate network. In fact, a survey conducted by IBM finds that one-third of employees surveyed at Fortune 1000 companies are sharing and uploading corporate data on third-party cloud applications. IBM also notes that nearly 40 percent of the mobile apps developed today are not properly secured.
For that reason, many IT organizations are now moving to more aggressively lock down their environments. Not too long ago the assumption was that people needed to access the Web at work as part of managing their daily lives. But, now that just about everybody has access to a smartphone or tablet, many organizations are starting to rethink their policies. If an employee can surf the Web using their own device, then the employer can, for example, more aggressively restrict access to web sites such Gmail.
The core concern, of course, is data leakage. In the name of convenience, employees now routinely use mobile devices on open networks to view sensitive data. Most of them don’t even realize how simple it is for someone to highjack that data or, if they do understand this, they're betting that they won’t be victimized in a world where millions of people are sending and receiving data on public networks. In effect, they are concluding that someone else will be victimized instead because the herd is so large.
At the end of the day, organizations are going to have to make the penalties for being careless with sensitive corporate data more stringent. In the meantime, IT services providers would do well to take note that conversations surrounding mobile computing are moving away from managing devices and applications in favor of locking down the data those devices and applications might be allowed to access.
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