Cisco says BYOD makes SA businesses vulnerable

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New research conducted by global networking and hardware giant Cisco has found that the increase in mobile devices in the workplace has left many South African businesses vulnerable to security breaches.

Cisco says South African companies need to pay closer attention to IT security, particularly where staff are able to access sensitive company information on their mobile devices. This sort of access is becoming increasingly commonplace because of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, which has gained popularity in recent years.

According to Cisco, there will be an estimated 98 million mobile-connected devices in South Africa by 2018, making properly securing them all the more important. In its recent study, the company found that 52% of South African’s report using their mobile devices to work and almost two thirds report that they are allowed to use their own devices to access company networks or servers.

mobileAlarmingly, though, almost half of South African companies say they are still in the process of implementing security and safeguards to contend employees’ mobile devices. And only half of companies surveyed have “specific restrictions that are clearly communicated to all employees” on the subject of BYOD.

“In this era of the Internet of Everything, South Africans are increasingly expecting to work, communicate and organise their lives from anywhere, using any device so those businesses that don’t adapt risk losing competitiveness, talent and, ultimately, money,” says Kian Ellens, sales business developer manager at Cisco South Africa.

“Our research demonstrates that the biggest challenge South African organisations face today with the BYOD trend is introducing and managing a solid security strategy. As more and more employees are using devices for both personal and business activities, the issues with potential loss of confidential company data increases as IT departments are less in control.”

Ellens says IT managers need to acknowledge the need for a “more holistic approach – one that is scalable and addresses mobility, security governance, virtualisation and network policy management”. This is needed in order to keep management costs in line “while simultaneously providing optimal experiences and reaping savings”.

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