Published/updated: June 2014
By Jack Vile
By now we’ve all heard the term Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular as people have access to far more advanced consumer tech in their personal lives and wish to replicate this in the business environment.
As a result many are worried about the security of business data stored locally on devices. While this is a legitimate concern, that in reality also applies to company owned devices, there is a bigger threat – the credentials stored on mobile equipment. This was brought up in the recent X-Force document, a quarterly report on the state of cyber security published by IBM, and prompted me to consider the issue further.
Think about how many passwords are saved on the average smartphone. Whether it be email, mobile apps, web applications, or even simple web pages, there are probably quite a few because users like the convenience of immediate access. But what if the device is compromised? The bad guy(s) responsible now also gain immediate access to all of the same applications and services.
Now for the average smart device owner this may not be much of a concern. However when we consider who is currently using mobile technology in a business context, we find it’s a lot of execs or managers. Should their stored credentials fall into the wrong hands, potentially far more sensitive information could be accessed than that actually resident on the device. This could be anything from intellectual property to financial data all the way through to personal information.
This is a real risk, so how can it be dealt with? Below are solutions that represent a good starting point:
Of course besides managing people, technology can be also used to help minimise the risk. Relevant solutions include:
The main point is that the risk of stored credentials is often overlooked or set aside in the name of convenience. No matter how much users grumble, however, it is a threat that needs to be taken seriously. By not protecting yourself from these dangers you could provide the first step for more severe security breaches.
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