UK Businesses lack BYOD safeguards, researchers say

The bring-your-own-device trend has caused headaches for IT administrators in businesses across the United States, and it seems IT departments in the United Kingdom are sharing similar pains as a result of BYOD. According to new research from Virgin Media Business, more than half of corporate networks in the UK were breached in 2011 as a direct result of personal devices entering the workplace.

While this news may make it tempting to completely forbid BYOD, researchers warned that this strategy may backfire and ultimately be ineffective. Particularly as more personal devices enter the workplace, businesses would be wise to start crafting strategies to manage rather than eliminate them.

"With sales of tablets expected to have gone through the roof over Christmas, it looks like personal devices in the workplace is here to stay," said Tony Grace, COO at Virgin Media. "But with just a fifth of large firms having a BYOD policy, businesses will continue to experience security breaches until connectivity, security and user policies are put in place."

Larger organizations may be at an even greater risk, Virgin Media found. SMBs experienced 25 percent fewer incidents than their larger counterparts. However, Virgin Media researchers warned that the risk of security incidents related to BYOD is likely to increase for companies of all sizes in 2013.

To BYOD or not to BYOD
News about high data breach rates may have some IT staff wondering whether BYOD is actually worth the risk. As Grace's comments suggest, it may simply be a matter of having adequate policies to guide the implementation of mobile device management solutions and increase awareness of best practices.

Particularly for SMBs, allowing personal devices can be a cost-effective way to take advantage of the latest mobile technology, according to Technorati Business Editor Steve Woods. Accepting BYOD may also provide insight into business operations that lead to innovation.

"Allowing your employees to leverage their own devices in support of your small business may soon provide you the opportunity to learn about other, perhaps even more preferred methods of interacting with your information, services or product lines," Woods wrote. "That static website you have might fade before the real possibility of creating a mobile app with a greater array of services."

Enterprise mobility changes the computer security ecosystem dramatically by introducing highly portable devices with robust functionality into the mix. However, turning a blind eye to BYOD and similar trends is likely to result in competitive disadvantages, or worse - employees attempting to mitigate the policies laid out by their IT departments.

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