Security needs to adapt fast to the vanishing work-life boundary

By 2017, Gartner predicts that half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes

 Security needs to adapt fast to the vanishing work-life boundary

The work-life boundary has truly dissolved, with more than three quarters (78%) of professionals using their personal devices for work, and an even greater number of them (79%) using their company-issued devics for personal tasks. Around 61% of all activity taking place on devices is for personal data. 

The figures come from a new global study from Intel Security and MSI Research, which looked at professionals' attitudes to online data proection in an enterprise world where consumerisation is king and employees are increasingly demanding the same technology experience across their personal lives and work. 

With an emphasis on intuitive collaboration and enhanced productivity, initiatives such as BYOD encourage this sort of working behaviour. From a security perspective however, it's a minefield of risks.

Although employees are taking a much more independent approach to the devices they use, the same doesn't stand for security- 65% of respondents in the survey feel it's the responsibility of IT to protect personal data on their work devices, and 77% feel confident their employer is taking the necessarily steps to protect all important data.

> See also: The top 10 ways why BYOD initiatives fail

'For many people work happens whenever and wherever, with whichever device is handy,' said Raj Samani, EMEA Chief Technology Officer at Intel Security. 'However, just by checking work emails on a personal laptop, for example, an employee allows corporate data to wander outside the network, potentially unprotected. Enterprises need clearly defined policies on bring your own devices, outlining which applications and websites are permitted as well as providing advice on where not to access corporate data. By doing so, companies can reap the rewards of enhanced productivity and collaboration as well as protecting the company.'

With over a third of professionals surveyed admitting to logging on to public Wi-Fi on a company laptop, enterprises and employees need to be better educated on BYOD in order to stay safe in an increasingly social working environment. 

By 2017, Gartner predicts that half of employers will require employees to supply their own device for work purposes. Businesses have eagerly embraced BYOD for many reasons. Not only can BYOD empower your workforce, it can also be economically advantageous as the consumerisation of IT is gaining ground in smaller companies on a budget. BYOD also drives innovation in the development of new business applications.

But not everyone is a fan: BYOD can be a security nightmare for IT departments. IT perceives that there is a potential for a certain amount of chaos, disorder, data loss, and security risk when it comes to permitting users to bring their own consumer devices into the corporate network.

Most mobile users don’t usually concern themselves with managing the security of their devices. They are too busy communicating and doing business. Yet just count the vast number of apps available on your phone. Not all of them are necessarily built with airtight security, so they are an easy entry point for malware and data-stealing exploits.

By placing corporate documents into cloud-based Dropbox accounts, forwarding internal email to webmail, or using smartphones and tablets in unprotected mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, users can put data at risk.

> See also: Taking mobility by the reins: the rise and fall of BYOD

Samani advices that IT needs a way to monitor and regulate how users transfer and use valuable corporate data over these devices and safeguard data if the device is lost or stolen. Ideally, your endpoint protection, preferably an integrated suite of various tools includes a unified management hub.

Solutions such as McAfee ePO software enable IT to administer protection, develop and enforce policies, and manage risk as part of your daily endpoint security practice—which includes BYOD. Comprehensive coverage for PCs, Macs, Linux systems, smartphones, virtual machines, tablets, and servers will minimize IT headaches and keep your endpoints and networks more secure, says Semani.

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