Mobilising the Workforce Securely

02/09/2013 12:52 BST | Updated 02/11/2013 09:12 GMT

Today's workforce no longer expects to be kept within the confines of the four walls of the office; people expect to be able to work from home and on the go and if their employers won't provide them with the technology to do so, they'll simply use their own. Unfortunately, this has opened a can of security worms for IT departments worldwide.

The previous security conundrum focused on whether or not employers should take the precaution of banning staff from using their own devices, and possibly impact productivity, or bite the bullet and issue their own enterprise-approved devices for staff to use. Unfortunately the ship has now sailed for securing hardware devices, our research shows that 61% of UK office workers using enterprise-issued tablets admit to downloading personal software and applications onto enterprise devices and 59% use their personal devices to store work content.

Unsurprisingly, it's the younger generations (18-24 and 25-31 years old) that are taking advantage of this most. And, with only 17% of employees aware of a BYOD policy at work, it seems that personal devices are coexisting with enterprise issued gadgets rather than replacing them.

The post PC era is well and truly here and organisations need to think about how they are going to stop company data walking out the door as well as keeping devices secure from malware or viruses that employees may have inadvertently downloaded. With the lines blurring between personal and work devices, consumer file sharing and storage tools are being used on both. This is putting enterprise content at risk so employers are left with no choice but to secure their software so that no enterprise content rests on the device itself.

Enterprises need to either create their own bespoke apps or select one to support collaboration on the move. It is essential that these are designed for the enterprise so have the right levels of security built into them. Granular permission levels should be incorporated to secure company data as well as encryption in transit and at rest. With 5% of staff surveyed losing company devices, if data is being stored on devices rather than securely in the cloud, remote wipe capabilities will need to be included.

However, it's not just about providing office workers with a tool or service - organisations need to provide ones that are easy to use. If they're too complicated, people will just go back to using the consumer tools they are used to and enterprises will be back at square one.

Securing devices has already become yesterday's problem, with the meteoric rise of cloud and mobile devices the change in the way we work has happened incredibly quickly. There's no turning back now so businesses need to hurry up and adjust to this new world as fast as possible.