Mobile Security Needs Grow as BYOD Gains Popularity: IDC

Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives and mobile payment services require more robust mobile security planning, an IDC report says.

The rise of mobile payments and wireless devices like smartphones and tablets means enterprises need to ensure they have the appropriate security infrastructure in place to guard against threats, according to an IDC Financial Insights report, €œEnterprise Mobile Device Security: Development Guidance to Tackle the Mobile Security Minefield", which examined ways IT security can be improved through mobile-device management (MDM) and mobile-application management (MAM).

Adding to the complexity of the issue is the growing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, which allows employees to tie their own mobile devices into the company network for work purposes. As these initiatives gain steam, IDC said MDM tools such as robust security applications to remotely secure, monitor, encrypt and manage data, and MAM tools to ensure applications on and off the company network are secure will be of major importance.

"By 2012, the Asia-Pacific region will command 47 percent of the global smartphone pie, which is equivalent to 541 million units,€ Li-May Chew, CFA, associate director for IDC Financial Insights Asia-Pacific financial advisory service, said in a press statement. €œWith the rise of smartphones, IDC expects malicious mobile software€”or malware such as viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware and other rogue applications€”to increase exponentially as we move into the future, and this will in return amplify demand for mobile security solutions in the Asia-Pacific."

Further complicating matters is the fact that many employees are unaware of their company€™s security policies. Many younger workers, who view BYOD as a right, not a privilege, may accidentally or purposefully violate company policies, which could lead to a damaging or catastrophic security breach. IDC recommended enterprises hold training and information sessions to educate their workforces on appropriate use of mobile devices, as well as highlight the applications and IT infrastructure that keeps malware and other harmful components off the devices€”and off the company network.

€œNonetheless, it is not all about installing stringent mobile security features. As cliche as it may sound, we€”device owners and end users€”are typically the weakest link when it comes to information security,€ she continued. €œIt is thus up to enterprises to increase employee awareness of these threats and introduce programs to inculcate secure practices in the work environment.€

A recent report from IT research firm Gartner also suggests the BYOD trend is causing headaches for enterprise IT departments. According to the survey, the top security issues included the use of privately owned devices and the deployment of new enterprise mobile platforms. However, the report also suggested enterprises are preparing for the onslaught of mobile devices in the workplace, with businesses offering technical support for 32 percent of smartphones, 37 percent of tablets and 44 percent of laptops.