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Study Reveals Bring Your Own Device Security Gaps as Remote and Hybrid Work Increases

Cloud security specialist, Bitglass, has announced several findings from its 2021 BYOD Security Report that show the rapid adoption of unmanaged personal devices connecting to work-related resources (aka BYOD) and why organizations 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. 

Cybersecurity Insiders surveyed 271 cybersecurity professionals in April 2021, to gain deep insight into mobile BYOD security threats faced by organizations and the solutions to prevent and remediate them. The respondents range from technical executives to IT security practitioners, representing a balanced cross-section of organizations of varying sizes across multiple industries.

The insights from the report are especially relevant as more enterprises are shifting 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,” said Holger Schulze, founder, Cybersecurity Insiders. “Our research uncovered a plethora of evidence that shows organizations are not paying enough attention to securing unmanaged personal devices and why the time is now for them to think differently when it comes to securing BYOD.” 

The report notes that the shift to remote work amid the pandemic resulted in 47 percent of organizations reporting an increase of personal devices being used for work. As a result, a total of 82 percent of organizations said they now actively enable BYOD to some extent. While the use of personal devices has helped businesses improve employee productivity and satisfaction, while also reducing costs, challenges associated with managing device access and mobile security remain. 

The most critical concern respondents expressed was data leakage or loss (62 percent). Other apprehensions included users downloading unsafe apps or content (54 percent), lost or stolen devices (53 percent), and unauthorized access to company data and systems (51 percent). 

Only 22 percent of organizations surveyed indicated they can confirm that unmanaged devices have downloaded malware in the past 12 months. However, nearly half (49 percent) 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.

A total of 41 percent of organizations reported relying on endpoint malware protection for BYOD and over a quarter (30 percent) of firms said they don’t protect against malware for BYOD at all. Only 11 percent of organizations surveyed are using cloud-based malware protection tools.

“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,” said Anurag Kahol, CTO, Bitglass. “This is why there has never been a more important time for enterprises to seriously rethink their approach and secure all forms of communication amongst users, devices, apps, or web destinations.” 

Read the report at Bitglass

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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