The Rise of Mobile Causing Cybersecurity Failures

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Jun 16, 2014 6:17:00 AM

Enterprise mobility has been among the most important and transformative trends to break into the public and private sectors in the past few years, as smartphones, portable computers and tablets continue to become more ubiquitous in the average North American organization. Cloud services have been at the center of many mobility deployments, especially considering the fact that these technologies can better centralize the management frameworks needed for operations oversight in the BYOD era. 

Additionally, enterprise mobility demands that organizations make data and systems available from a wider variety of areas and access points, all the while ensuring that security performances and information governance are kept in line with compliance requirements and industry standards. In short, the average chief information officer has a weighty battle in terms of the simultaneous deployment of strategic technologies and relevant initiatives along with maximum security and protection against loss or exposure. 

Small business owners have been traditionally at a higher risk of cybercrime events and data loss stemming from disasters simply because they commonly possess a less robust and fluid resource pool for IT investments and innovation. However, cloud computing has helped entrepreneurs modernize their frameworks and facilitate the deployment of secure, productive and efficient enterprise mobility programs in the past few years. 

With that in mind, the security of mobile frameworks is still a major pressure point that advocacy groups and researchers have stressed will become a nightmare for those companies that have not gone about deployments and strategy creation properly. The most common cause of data breach are often tied back to negligence, error and malicious insiders, and small businesses must take proactive steps to shore up their defenses and protect against external and internal threats. 

Researchers speak out
Gartner recently reported that the personal computer continues to become less relevant amid the explosion of new, smaller and more agile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Citing research it had conducted in the past, the research firm forecast roughly 2.2 billion smartphones and tablets to be sold this year, which represents a significant portion of the total global population and highlights the changing of the tides in the corporate computing arena. 

According to the analysts, while mobile seems to be a trend that will not be stopped any time soon because of its substantial and revolutionary benefits from a business standpoint, it is going to present even more difficult challenges for security professionals and IT departments in the future. The firm argued that roughly three-quarters of all data breaches that are tied back to a mobile device will actually be caused by misuse or misconfiguration by 2017. 

This relates to a common theme that has been circulating around the small business sector in recent years, in that entrepreneurs must know when to tap the external resources available to them to ensure that configuration, maintenance and security procedures are all moving along cohesively and as a well-oiled machine. Per Gartner's prediction, though, it seems experts believe that businesses will remain negligent in terms of routine oversight and management of new technology frameworks. 

"Mobile security breaches are - and will continue to be - the result of misconfiguration and misuse on an app level, rather than the outcome of deeply technical attacks on mobile devices," Dionisio Zumerle, principal research analyst at Gartner, explained. "A classic example of misconfiguration is the misuse of personal cloud services through apps residing on smartphones and tablets. When used to convey enterprise data, these apps lead to data leaks that the organization remains unaware of for the majority of devices."

The firm went on to suggest several ways in which business leaders can sidestep these issues, many of which involve the focus on people, processes and technology that becomes increasingly necessary in mobile-enabled workplaces. The firm stated that device passcodes, user agreements, minimums and maximums for platforms or operating systems, jailbreaking enforcement and app signature oversight will all need to be refined ahead of BYOD deployments. 

Furthermore, many of the predictions listed by Gartner fall into the category of rogue IT risks, which is a theme that has been widely discussed the in cloud and mobility era. Businesses that fail to ensure a positive, fluid user experience that has minimal obstacles in front of employees but plenty of control to avoid data sprawl or compromised networks will likely see misuse and misconfiguration issues more frequently. 

At the end of the day, there is a relatively simple way to go about avoiding these problems. 

Creating efficient cohesion in IT
Considering the fact that such a high rate of data breaches is associated with overly restrictive or complex policies that lead to human error or rogue IT, small business owners should work to ensure that they are taking a highly structured and targeted approach to strategy creation and implementation. IT and unified communications are becoming more converged in the cloud computing era, and poor management protocols for either will yield this type of high risk situation which Gartner is discussing.

First and foremost, entrepreneurs must ensure that they are getting employee buy-in and maximizing the amount of collaboration that goes into the creation of policies. Then, they would do well to understand what the resources they have internally can achieve, as well as what they cannot, and begin to provision the support frameworks necessary to maximize productivity, security and efficiency among their workers.

Managed service providers that specialize in UC and cloud services can often be the best weapon against threats and challenges such as rogue IT, misconfiguration and human error. Implementation procedures, routine maintenance and general systems oversight will be handled by qualified professionals who possess skills in these matters, while in-house IT professionals will be more capable of focusing on broader strategic matters rather than these relatively mundane responsibilities each day.  

Small business owners who want to capture the power of mobility and cloud computing without taking on the increased risk of breach, exposure or other complications should consider working with a vendor of UC and IT solutions that has a reliable track record and robust service catalog to offer. 

Topics: IT Management