Fortinet Pan-Asia Survey Reveals 'First Generation' BYOD Workers Pose Serious Security Challenges to Corporate IT Systems

Tech July 05, 2012 00:00

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Almost half of the Asian respondents would contravene company policy banning the use of personal devices at work or for work purposes


Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT) − a world leader in high-performance network security – has conducted a global survey that reveals the extent of the challenge posed to corporate IT systems by first generation Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) users; people entering the workplace with an expectation to use their own mobile devices. The survey describes the degree to which security is widely given low consideration by Gen-Y employees using their own devices, including the disturbing fact that almost one in two Asian employees would contravene a company’s security policy that forbids them to use their personal devices at work or for work purposes. Overall, the findings underscore the urgency with which enterprises should develop security strategies to successfully secure and manage BYOD activity.
The global survey, conducted in 15 territories* during May/June 2012, asked over 3,800 active employees aged 21 to 31 about their perspectives on BYOD, its impact on their work environment and their approach to personal and corporate IT security. One thousand four hundred and forty-three  Asian employees were surveyed.
Strong Dependence on Personal Communications Means BYOD is Here to Stay
Within the demographic of the survey, which represents tomorrow’s management and decision makers, BYOD is confirmed as a mainstream activity. More than three quarters (85%) of Asian respondents already regularly engage in the practice. More importantly, more than half (55%) of the Asian respondents view using their device at work as a ‘right’ rather than a ‘privilege’.
From a user perspective, the primary driver of the BYOD practice is that individuals can constantly access their preferred applications, especially social media and private communications. The dependence on personal communications is strong with 59% of Asian respondents admitting they could not go a day without accessing social networks, and 67% unable to last a day without SMS. In fact, Asians' affinity for their mobile devices are significantly higher than the global averages of 35% and 47% for social networks and SMS, respectively. 
Lax Consideration of Business Risks Means Workers Contravene Corporate Policy
The first generation of BYOD workers understand the risks posed by BYOD to their organization. Forty-two percent of the Asian survey sample actually believe potential data loss and exposure to malicious IT threats to be the dominant risk. Yet, worryingly for IT departments, this risk awareness does not prevent those workers from bypassing corporate policies. In fact, close to half of the Asian respondents (47%) admitted they have or would contravene a corporate policy banning the use of personally-owned devices for work purposes. 
When asked about policies banning the use of non-approved applications, the figure remains about the same, with 39% of Asian respondents admitting they have or would contravene policy. The risk to organizations from non-approved applications looks set to grow. Indeed, more than three quarters (81%) of Asian respondents confirmed they are interested in Bring Your Own Application (BYOA) − where users create and use their own custom applications at work.
The survey results also hinted at the resistance organizations might face with regards to implementing security on an employee’s device. The majority (54%) of the Asian respondents consider themselves – not the company – to be responsible for the security of the personal devices they use for work purposes. This is substantially more than the number who believes responsibility ultimately rests with their employer (35%).
“The survey clearly reveals the great challenge faced by organizations to reconcile security and BYOD,” said Patrice Perche, senior vice president of International Sales & Support for Fortinet. “While users want and expect to use their own devices for work, mostly for personal convenience, they do not want to hand over responsibility for security on their own devices to the organization. Within such an environment, organizations must regain control of their IT infrastructure by strongly securing both inbound and outbound access to the corporate network and not just implement mobile device management or “MDM”. Organizations cannot rely on a single technology to address the security challenges of BYOD. The most effective network security strategy requires granular control over users and applications, not just devices.”