Bad news for BYOD security: Users don’t care about protecting important data

Employees are often careless when it comes to sensitive information on mobile devices, and BYOD policies have done little to change things. What can IT do? 

Most users don’t think twice about putting company data on personal smartphones, tablets and laptops, according to a recent survey research firm Ipsos Mori and cloud provider Huddle. For the 4,000 office workers surveyed, that’s often the case even if their employer has a policy against it.

Just over half (52%) of US workers put sensitive data on personal smartphones, tablets and laptops. By now, that’s probably not surprising, but companies have had trouble promoting BYOD security.

What are the options?

One strategy that some organizations are likely thinking about is to ban BYOD altogether — but then the company will miss out on all the benefits of BYOD. And even then it may not help that much with security.

Users aren’t exactly more careful with company-owned mobile devices. For example, 73% said they’ve been installing personal apps on tablets issued by their employers, and 62% do so on company-issued smartphones. Often, those applications include consumer-grade data storage programs that don’t offer much in the way of security.

It’s also easy to imagine people being more careful not to lose their own gadgets than those paid for by an employer.

The lines between work and personal devices are blurring, no matter what IT departments do.

A more effective approach for BYOD security: Educate users about the company’s mobile device policy. That should include both the company’s stance on BYOD and what users can and can’t do with company-owned devices. Among the US workers surveyed, just 23% said they were familiar with their company’s rules on BYOD.

In some organizations, a copy of the policy might only be given to users who ask to bring a personal device onto the network. But making sure the policy is distributed to the entire company will help cut down on some risky behavior.

Of course, those rules won’t keep all users from putting sensitive data in harm’s way. That’s why it’s important for companies to take other key steps for managing BYOD.

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