With many companies moving to BYOD models, mobile security is an ever-increasing risk for enterprises. How can a company ensure the security of the proprietary data that may be shared across devices spanning multiple carriers and multiple manufacturers?

PricewaterhouseCoopers says that about 88 percent of mobile users are using their devices for both work and personal use. Yet only about 45 percent of companies have a mobile security policy in place to protect their networks from vulnerabilities created by unsecured mobile devices.

Mobile users less likely to take security precautions

MobiThinking reports that 96 percent of smartphones and tablets don’t have a third-party security application installed, citing data from Canalys and Juniper. Yet mobile device users are increasingly downloading applications from unknown authors – a habit that most PC users have kicked with the rise in security awareness.

Mobile applications have the same capacity to introduce malicious code which could track proprietary information or personally sensitive data, or even alter the functionality of a mobile operating system. In 2011, BullGuard identified more than 2,500 types of malware which could access a mobile platform.

Employing security practices in a BYOD model

When it comes to BYOD, sound policies are the first step in ensuring the security of sensitive business data. A cross-platform mobile security solution can ensure consistency in monitoring and preventing vulnerabilities in mobile software applications. For instance, Veracode’s mobile security solution supports Android, BlackBerry, iOS and Windows Mobile platforms for static binary scanning.

Setting the stage for cross-platform mobile security

When supporting multiple types of devices with mobile access to enterprise networks, companies must create a set of workable policies and solutions compatible with BYOD models. Businesses can’t mandate, for instance, that employees do not download third-party applications on their own devices. However, they can implement policies to boost security when it comes to network access.

  • Require strong passwords for network access.
  • Mandate password changes every thirty days.
  • Offer third-party, verified cross-platform mobile security solutions.
  • Limit network access to those employees who require it.
  • Prohibit simultaneous business and personal use of devices. For example, set policies that limit the use of other applications while logged into the corporate network.
  • Require that devices used to access the corporate network are locked when not in use.
  • Enable remote access to any personal devices used for work purposes by the IT department. This enables the company’s IT department to monitor activity remotely and wipe the device clean if necessary.

Third-party mobile security offers added protections

Of course, all these necessary precautions mean nothing if employees don’t follow the rules. It takes just one breach of one device to potentially infect an entire network. Security can be enhanced with the use of a third-party application that works across multiple platforms, ensuring more consistency in terms of what applications can be downloaded and blocking access to malicious Websites or programs.

There are a number of mobile security solutions with cross-platform compatibility:

  • Lookout is a free security application for smartphones running on Android or iOS platforms. This application prevents users from accessing unsecured Wi-Fi networks or downloading malicious code. It also shows users which apps have access to personal data. Lookout also comes in a Premium, paid version.
  • AirWatch is a fully configurable mobile security program compatible with most existing enterprise applications. It’s able to configure Wi-Fi and VPN network settings, requiring user credentials for access. A Secure Email Gateway boosts security and control for managing mobile email access.
  • EchoWorx mobilEncrypt is an email encryption solution which works at the device level to encrypt all transmissions at the source.  It’s compatible with any iOS-, BlackBerry- or Android-based mobile device.
  • Zenprise Mobile Device Management is a full-service mobile security system for businesses, offering continuous device compliance monitoring, blacklisting and whitelisting of mobile apps, blocking malicious apps and transmission encryption.

With the use of mobile applications for business on the rise, enterprises have a whole new set of security challenges. Implementing strong BYOD policies and employing the use of a third-party security application with cross-platform compatibility can offer an added layer of protection and consistency in access to enterprise networks.