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The truth about BYOD

This article appears in the issue May 2013, [Volume 22, Issue 5]

A group of Cisco partners conducted a study using a randomized, online sampling of full-time American workers. The group reports it analyzed 1,000 responses. The population for Americans employed full-time who own a smart phone is roughly 53 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The margin of error of the study is three percent.

The likely most troubling finding is that people who use their smart phones for work have inconsistent security habits. In the chart at the far right of this page, the information from High Point Solutions, a Cisco partner, indicates that 39 percent of BYODers don't protect their phones with a password. Fifty-two percent access unsecured Wi-Fi networks with their devices, a well-known vulnerability in the cybersecurity industry. Just last year, the report notes, a popular Mozilla Firefox plug-in was identified that allowed users to exploit devices that were connected to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Among password protectors, 54 percent of Android users lock their devices with a password, compared with 66 percent of iOS users. As Android has carved out a larger market share (53 percent worldwide according to Gartner, gartner.com), it may be grabbing a broader spectrum of customers, including less technologically savvy users.

But the security issues go deeper than password protections and Wi-Fi access. A large number of BYODers don't even consider that their phones' Bluetooth discoverable modes may still be on; 48 percent of work smart phone users haven't disabled the feature on their devices. According to Symantec (symantec.com), "When a Bluetooth device is discoverable, it is very easy to scan for it using a PC and download private data ... "

Although mobile security breaches are still rare, with a full-time workforce of about 115 million Americans toting at least 50 million smart phones, lapses are inevitable.   


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