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4 IT Risks and Challenges with BYOD Device Management

Make no mistake about it – BYOD is here to stay. A 2011 IDC survey stated that 40 percent of devices used to access business applications are consumer-owned, up 30 percent from 2010 while Gartner published a report that by 2014, 80 percent of professionals will use at least two personal devices to access corporate systems and data. So BYOD is the new workplace reality. In the end, there are multiple reasons – from cost reductions to increased employee efficiencies – that support corporate adoption. IT must, however, take into account the risks and challenges associated with BYOD device management.

In many ways, BYOD started at the top. Senior executives who wanted to work from home and abroad were among the first to demand that IT enable access to corporate resources from their personal devices. Because these C-level exceptions were relatively infrequent, IT could manage risks associated with the requests.

The trickle down from this exception quickly escalated, and many organizations have been caught off guard without a BYOD policy in place. And, because consumer devices are so diverse in capability, form factor and function, IT departments can be frustrated with efforts to develop a scalable and manageable plan on how to allow or deny specific consumer devices into the organization.

Unquestionably, BYOD challenges long-standing IT controls to minimize and mitigate risk. And, as businesses explore how to adopt BYOD, the risks associated with it must be examined. Here are 4 risks and challenges inherent in BYOD device management.

1. Data loss. Data loss can vary, and the consequences can be extreme. For example, a recent study by the  onemon Institute estimated that a data breach could cost a company about $200 per compromised record, based upon a variety of factors including the cost of lost business because of an incident; legal fees; disclosure expenses related to customer contact and public response; consulting help; and remediation expenses, such as new security technology and training. Additional costs can also hamper the bottom line… as an example, a retailer that experiences a data breach may have to pay for credit monitoring services for customers, payment of legal settlements, and PCI DSS information controls for up to 5 years.

2. Viruses entering the corporate network via consumer devices as well as intrusion attacks. Granted, the industry is at a nascent stage of targeted intrusion attacks via mobile devices, but the expectation is that hackers will be able to break out of device browser “sandboxes” and get access to other device functions. This could easily lead to directory harvest attacks or new types of BYOD-driven botnets.

We think Man-in-the-Browser (MitB) attacks will escalate. Traditional malware tends to infect the OS – typically, as an executable program that modifies various boot parameters so it runs every time a computing device is turned on. In contrast, MitB or browser zombies, arrive as malicious browser extensions, plugins, helper objects, or pieces of JavaScript. They do not infect the whole system; instead they take complete control of a device browser and run whenever the user surfs the web.

3. Policy enforcement. With so many devices available to the consumer, IT departments are simply ill equipped to create device-by-device BYOD device management policies. Due to the wide range of devices, it is critical for IT to be able to identify each device connecting to the corporate network, and be able to authenticate both the device and person using it.

4. Insufficient insight into what’s happening in their network. Without being able to see what is going on in the corporate network, IT is hindered in its ability to protect business and information assets. That lack of insight (both in terms of logging and reporting) supports the adage that “you can’t protect what you don’t know.”

There are a myriad of challenges that IT faces in order to deal with BYOD device management. Some of these are risk-management challenges; others are empowerment and usage challenges. Nonetheless, IT must expect to adopt and enforce a BYOD strategy as part of its services to the organization.

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