Security and The Mobile Workforce: Are Your Employees Sacrificing Security for Productivity Gains?

10 December, 2014

Mobile devices have quickly become an integral part of the workplace because, quite simply, they make employees more productive. Unfortunately, the security practices and budgets in most organizations are not keeping pace with the growing number of devices that must be managed and kept secured.

The challenge for today’s organizations is to effectively adopt a mobile strategy with technologies that enable the employee to work efficiently without putting confidential information at risk. However, one of the biggest barriers to achieving an effective mobile security strategy is employee resistance, making training and awareness programs essential components of any mobile strategy plan.

Raytheon Cyber Products recently commissioned the Ponemon Institute to survey IT security practitioners who are involved in developing or implementing the mobile strategy for their organizations. The report examines the impact of mobile devices, apps and the mobile workforce on their overall security posture.

Here are some key findings from the report:

  • End-user productivity drives growth of mobile devices in the workplace. Sixty-one percent of respondents believe mobile devices increase productivity, which is an incentive for organizations to encourage their use. According to the research, on average, one-third of employees use mobile devices exclusively to do their work, and this is expected to increase to an average of 47 percent of employees in the next 12 months.
  • More mobile devices must be managed, but budgets fail to keep up with the growth. The typical organization represented in the study must manage almost 20,000 mobile devices and this is expected to increase to an average of 28,000 in the next 12 months. Only 36 percent of respondents say they have a budget sufficient to deal with the explosive growth of mobile devices. The average budget that is considered adequate is approximately $5.5 million annually – or $278 per managed device.
  • Security is sacrificed for productivity. The majority of respondents (52 percent) say security practices on mobile devices have been sacrificed in order to improve employee productivity. Moreover, 60 percent believe employees have become less diligent in practicing good mobile security. The two biggest mobile security risks are malware infections and end-user negligence.

The biggest barriers to having a BYOD program are listed in the graph below:

The Biggest Barriers to Having a BYOD Program

The report makes it clear that it’s a critical concern for organizations to secure mobile devices in their workforce. Seventy-five percent of respondents reported that they believe it is important to secure employees’ mobile devices, however, 30 percent said their organizations had no mobile security features in place. When asked how they thought mobile devices should be secured, a virtualized solution was popular with 57 percent of respondents.

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