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Rapid device adoption reveals massive security gaps across BYOD initiatives

By Shannon Williams, Fri 18 Jun 2021

The rapid adoption of unmanaged personal devices connecting to work-related resources are revealing security gaps within organisations' BYOD initiatives, according to a new report. 

Bitglass announced findings from its 2021 BYOD Security Report that show organisations are ill-equipped to deal with growing security threats such as malware and data theft. 

The study, a joint venture with Cybersecurity Insiders, surveyed hundreds of cybersecurity professionals across industries to better understand how COVID-19's resulting surge of remote work has affected security and privacy risks introduced by the use of personal mobile devices. 

The insights in this report are especially relevant as more enterprises shift to permanent remote work or hybrid work models, connecting more devices to corporate networks and, as a result, expanding the attack surface. 

"As mobility and remote work environments keep growing, so do challenges ranging from managing device access to handling urgent mobile security concerns," says Holger Schulze, founder, Cybersecurity Insiders. 

"Our research uncovered a plethora of evidence that shows organisations are not paying enough attention securing unmanaged personal devices and why the time is now for them to think differently when it comes to securing BYOD." 

Key findings from the Bitglass 2021 BYOD Security Report: 

BYOD is here to stay 
The shift to remote work amid the pandemic resulted in 47% of organisations reporting an increase of personal devices being used for work. As a result, a total of 82% of organisations said they now actively enable BYOD to some extent. 

While the use of personal devices has helped businesses improve employee productivity and, while also reducing costs, challenges associated with managing device access and mobile security remain. 

Securing BYOD to prevent data loss/theft is a top concern 
The most critical concern respondents expressed was data leakage or loss (62%). Other apprehensions included users downloading unsafe apps or content (54%), lost or stolen devices (53%), and unauthorised access to company data and systems (51%).  

Enterprises are running blind when it comes to securing BYOD devices against modern security threats
For example, 22% of organisations indicated they can confirm that unmanaged devices have downloaded malware in the past 12 months. However, nearly half (49%) indicated they are not sure or could not disclose whether the same could be said for them. This lack of visibility can be detrimental to the overall business 

Many organisations are securing BYOD with old tools vs modern threats 
A total of 41% of organisations reported relying on endpoint malware protection for BYOD - an approach that is not ideal for personal devices that are hard to control and manage. Over a quarter (30%) of firms said they don't protect against malware for BYOD at all. 

While cloud-based malware protection tools are often a far better fit, only 11% of organisations surveyed are currently using these measures. 

Anurag Kahol, CTO, Bitglass, says, "As enterprises begin to shift to hybrid work environments, personal devices will provide the flexibility and remote access that employees require. 

"This new way of working, however, will undoubtedly stretch the resources of security teams," he says.

"This is why there has never been a more important time for enterprises to seriously rethink their approach to secure all forms of communication amongst users, devices, apps, or web destinations." 

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