BYOD Taking Over Business, but Security Issues Persist

A survey of BYOD participants found there is widespread acceptance of personal device use, but lax security controls.

Ninety percent of U.S. employees used their personal smartphones for work within the past year, yet only 46 percent believe their employers are prepared for any issues that could arise from BYOD, according to a new study in which a network of Cisco partners polled 1,000 consumers.

The survey revealed that 39 percent of employee's personal devices are not password-protected, and 84 percent of employees reported that their employers would not replace their personal devices if lost or broken, even though an almost equal percentage uses their personal devices for work. Of all BYOD, or bring your own device, participants, 69 percent of respondents said that there is an assumption that they will read work emails after hours.

More than nine in 10 (92 percent) of BYOD participants access their own smartphones for work every week—62 percent at least every day and 30 percent at least once per week, the study found. However, only 6 percent of workers said their employers paid for their smartphones outright. Just 3 percent received a stipend. A small number of workers (11 percent) reported receiving any kind of small reimbursement for their smartphone devices.

Just over half (52 percent) reported accessing unsecured WiFi networks with their devices, a well-known vulnerability in the cyber-security industry.

Just last year, for example, a popular Mozilla Firefox plug-in was identified that allowed users to exploit devices that were connected to unsecured WiFi networks.

Among password protectors, there seems to be a counter-intuitive breakdown between operating systems. Fifty-four percent of Google Android users lock their devices with a password, while 66 percent of iOS users have password protection. Overall, nearly 40 percent of BYOD participants don't protect their phones with a password.

The survey indicated security issues go deeper than password protection and WiFi access. A large number of BYOD users don't even consider that their phones' Bluetooth discoverable modes may still be on, and 48 percent of work smartphone users haven't disabled the feature on their devices.

Additionally, if a security issue were to arise, 86 percent of workers said their employers can't remotely wipe their device's data. That includes if the device is lost or stolen.

"The number of Americans with smartphones is steadily increasing," according to the report. "As that number grows and more Americans return to the workforce in the recovery from this recession, BYOD will cause security breakdowns and cost companies money. Knowing some of your employees' smartphone habits can help you prepare to mitigate the impact of those events."