The number of consumer smartphone and tablets brought into workplaces will more than double by 2014, according to a recent study, but security on the endpoints is lacking.
Juniper Research claims the number of devices being used in the corporate environment will reach 350 million globally, compared with 150 million already used in 2012. This figure accounts for 23% of all consumer mobile devices on the market.
The study from Juniper Research predicts most of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) activity will happen in western Europe. The region will account for 140 million devices in 2014. This is followed by North America and the Asia/Pacific area.
Yet only 5% of smartphones and tablets currently have security software installed, despite a steadily increasing threat from malware, fraud and theft.
“As smartphones are increasingly used for accessing remote data and carrying sensitive business and personal data, security apps are becoming an essential and integral part of the smartphone to make it less vulnerable to the different types of threats,” said the report, written by Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper Research.
Smartphone security scares
“As both consumer and enterprise adoption of tablets has risen – following the success of Apple’s iPad – there is a pressing need to provide security solutions for these devices.”
As well as the increased use of both smartphones and tablets, it is the way they are used that is causing the security issues, claimed Bhas.
Both free and paid-for apps are posing more of a risk as they are easy to download and, if anything untoward is stored inside the programmes, it is hard to detect until they are on the device.
Also, with such a range of mobile operating systems on offer, maintaining security across devices is increasingly difficult. The research claims the increase of open operating systems, such as Android, makes the development of targeted attacks easier, but when any third party developer gets involved with apps, it increases risk.
Mobile commerce apps are of also particular danger as, without the right security measures in place, a lot of sensitive information could get into the wrong hands.
“While the mobile environment has been largely successful thus far in eluding the wide spread threats and attacks faced by the PC world, it is becoming both more appealing to cyber criminals and is inherently vulnerable to other security issues,” Bhas wrote.
"BYOD is actually blurring the line separating business devices from consumer devices"
Nitin Bhas, senior analyst, Juniper Research
“A combination of safe practice and modern software to counter these threats is becoming more important by the day.”
The report claims businesses should install the standard list of security software expected to be present on other endpoints onto mobile devices, including a firewall, antivirus, spam, malware and phishing protection.
This way both the consumer’s personal information is kept safe and the corporate network is protected.
The biggest threat, however, is if a phone is lost or stolen, and the fear of this occurrence will drive companies to thinking about the security of device.
“As smartphones users increasingly store personal and business data, then the risk of crimes such as identity theft, made possible by phone theft, will be a strong motivator in using mobile security suites.”
BYOD schemes are often called “a security nightmare” by industry experts but, again, with the right software protections on the phone, this becomes less of an issue.
“BYOD is actually blurring the line separating business devices from consumer devices,” wrote Bhas. “This consumerisation of business devices reflects the change in consumer attitudes towards bringing in their own devices to the workplace.”
“There is a need to consider mobile devices as just another endpoint. They should be integrated with existing management platforms and there is a need to educate or inform enterprises of what solutions they should adopt.”
Despite of all this information, Juniper Research figures still only expect one in five devices to have third party security software installed in the next five years. But Bhas believes high-profile cases where mobiles are attacked will publicise the risk and raise awareness of both businesses and end users, seeing the revenue generated by mobile security vendors passing $1bn in 2013.
“Just as consumers are currently purchasing and installing internet security products on their PCs and laptops, mobile device users will also add their mobile devices to the list of electronic devices they must secure,” the report concludes.
“The number of protected consumer devices will overtake protected enterprise devices by 2015, driven by BYOD trends.”