In today’s work culture of ‘always on, always accessible’, employees have expectations of seamless access to documents and files both on and off the company network and on mobiles or tablets, without concern for potential security issues.
According to a Cisco study, the average number of connected devices an employee will own for work is expected to be 3.5 by the end of 2014. The increasing popularity of mobile devices, as well as company-wide BYOD policies, offers businesses many opportunities but, if not managed carefully, also comes with great risks.
A study by EE found that in the UK alone nearly 10 million work-devices were lost or stolen in 2013. This of course presents many challenges to managers wishing to maintain a work environment that is rich in features and accessibility yet one which is not detrimental to security.
With only 7% of stolen devices ever being recovered, the resulting potential for data leakage is huge. The majority of work-related electronic devices contain sensitive or confidential information, but how many of them can be traced or remote wiped in the event of loss or theft? Without adequate protection in place, company data is vulnerable to exposure.
However, research shows that only 14% of companies currently have a mobile device security policy in place. So what can be done to maintain an always accessible work environment through device proliferation whilst ensuring protection against data leakage?
A common approach to data management is to undertake the arduous and ultimately counter-productive task of trying to lock down the corporate network and mobile devices in order to limit and control employees’ use of the many cloud services available today. Whilst this often has a limited degree of success in ensuring that employees don’t use consumer cloud services on the corporate network, it is far from effective.
There are now services available that address data management and leakage issues whilst allowing IT administrators to provide company staff with user-friendly remote and mobile access and file sync and share functionality, giving them the ability to access and collaborate on their files from anywhere.
Managers should be considering these secure, scaleable services that enable the same level of access and productivity as their unsecure consumer-focussed counterparts without detrimentally impacting upon security.
> See also: 5 ways to balance BYOD and employee freedom
These services eliminate risk through features such as remote data wipe. Once a device has been reported lost or stolen, IT staff can administer the device via a cloud portal and wipe confidential information, eliminating the risk of business data being misappropriated.
Additional features such as two-factor authentication, device trace and high level encryption provide further protection against data leakage and theft.
Having this level of control and management in place will ultimately allow IT managers to sleep more soundly, safe in the knowledge that data is more secure and easily managed through an intuitive web interface.
At the same time, it will prevent employees having to resort to using consumer cloud storage services to access their files remotely and share files with other parties making everyone a winner.