CIOs have spoken: Prioritize mobile security in the enterprise

By Swanie Tolentino

Mobile, cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) are three of the biggest technology trends in business today, and they’re transforming companies of all sizes in all industries. No matter which new technologies a business implements, though, rising cyber risk continues to be a significant concern for IT leaders and chief information officers (CIOs). As workforce mobility increases, CIOs are declaring with resounding voices the importance of prioritizing mobile security.

According to a recent Global C-suite Study, CIOs expect mobile to continue to be a top area of growth over the next three to five years. Most employees today use mobile devices to perform their jobs. As these employees download more and more apps both for work and personal use, mobile security risks multiply. After all, many apps require personal data in order to deliver a compelling experience, and this increases the potential risk that enterprise data will be exposed.

The unambiguous CIO perspective

The Global C-suite Study states that “CIOs worry greatly about IT security” and “are clearly frustrated by those who don’t appreciate the danger.” For CIOs and their teams, IT security is far and away the greatest risk facing enterprises in the mobile era.

In the study of 1,805 CIOs, 76 percent marked it as the top concern for their business.

The good news is that security is starting to become a higher priority in enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions. With EMM, organizations can manage their mobile devices and apps from end to end to ensure the protection of data and productivity of employees.

Mobile security threats are multiplying

The biggest security risks that stem from mobile are not particularly new. The loss or theft of mobile devices and the use of leaky apps that lack enterprise-grade security features remain top threats. What is new, however, is the magnitude of these possible threats, due largely to the growth of the mobile workforce.

  • Most enterprise employees today have one or more mobile devices in use for work. A study from Tech Pro Research indicates that 72 percent of organizations currently have BYOD policies or plan to put them in place within the next year.
  • Each of these mobile devices has numerous (enterprise and third-party) apps. According to 2015 research from Nielsen, the average smartphone user accesses about 27 apps per month.
  • Each of the apps is continuously being updated. Each time an app asks for new permissions, users give the development company access to layers of their personal information, thereby increasing the risk that they will expose enterprise data.

Ask how well your enterprise mobility management solutions handle security

EMM solutions help organizations manage employee devices and their enterprise app catalog. To handle the upsurge in BYOD and corporate mobile device use for work, while protecting the company from cyber risk, EMM solutions must weave security into every layer of enterprise mobility.

What enterprise security policies does your EMM tool have in place?

Is your EMM solution integrated with other enterprise security tools?

It’s also important to remember that your employees’ mobile cloud app usage introduces new challenges and risks. Are you managing mobile access effectively so that you can get visibility into app usage, assess risky behavior and provide data protection with the right identity and access controls?

Does your enterprise security solution — which consolidates log source event data from thousands of devices, endpoints and applications throughout your network — integrate with your EMM solution for more intelligent mobile policy creation and enforcement, to the point where immediate actions can be taken when suspected breaches occur?

Safeguard your data

Employees expect mobile apps to be intuitive and easy to use. They want exceptional experiences that let them work in a more productive and collaborative manner. Their demands are incredibly high. However, CIOs know that employee expectations must be balanced with the imperative to ensure the security of enterprise data.

The IT experts have spoken, and mobile enterprises would do well to heed their advice.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.