As we've discussed in previous posts, the mobile workforce is no longer just a buzzword, but a reality for just about any organization that hopes to retain a competitive edge in the 24/7 global marketplace. A number of technologies and trends have driven the adoption of mobility in the enterprise. Along with that adoption come new threats and pitfalls, however. Here are three that your customers must guard against.
1. Malware and viruses
Malware and viruses are a constant threat to both endpoints and backend systems, with effects ranging from the minor inconvenience of a compromised laptop all the way up to the catastrophic aftermath of a major data breach, as both Target and Home Depot have learned. Unfortunately, a mobile workforce creates a much larger number of vectors through which malware and viruses can reach enterprise machines, especially when that mobile workforce is also a BYOD workforce. The more devices an employee uses to work and the more devices an employee uses to connect to the Internet, the more chances there are for the employee to click the wrong link or open the wrong attachment, opening the door for a piece of malicious software to infect the system. Fortunately, antivirus and malware protection software can often detect those threats when properly deployed.
2. Device loss and theft
Very few workers and very few businesses want to go back to the days when employee productivity depended on the employee being chained to the workstation at their desk, but there's one thing to be said for the on-premises workstation: it tends not to get left on the subway or stolen at the coffee shop, and therefore poses much less of a data breach risk. A mobile workforce is a workforce that may become more prone to losing devices that either access or store sensitive corporate data. When those devices end up in the wrong hands, organizations can suffer massive data breaches and the exposure of confidential information. To prevent employee carelessness from leading to severe security headaches, organizations must deploy MDM solutions that enable remote wiping of devices that are lost or stolen.
3. Insider threats
Finally, the very ease of access to corporate data can make some members of the mobile workforce more likely to pose a threat to their own employers. Certain types of sensitive data hold high value: consumer credit card numbers, for example, or cutting-edge R&D concepts and data in highly competitive industries. An employee who can only access that kind of information from an on-premises workstation, under the eyes of coworkers and supervisors, may be less tempted to copy or transfer the data for sale or exposure than an employee who knows he can access it from a number of different devices while in the privacy of his own home or otherwise away from others' observation. For this reason, a mobile workforce demands strong access control and monitoring solutions, preferably those that generate alerts when detecting anomalous activity.
No technology or trend is without its problems, and the mobile workforce certainly creates a few challenges. The importance of the trend has spurred development of solutions to those problems, however. Being knowledgeable about the problems and solutions will go a long way towards convincing your customers that the threats and pitfalls can—and should—be overcome.
What other threats and pitfalls does a mobile workforce create? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.