US government sees growth in shadow BYOD

US government sees growth in shadow BYOD

The US government is having to deal with a rise in what has become known as "shadow BYOD", or bring your own device, with some experts claiming it could hold a risk to data security.

That is the main finding of a recent survey by mobile security company Lookout, which despite the well-publicised risks, claims many governmental departments have failed to implement a formal BYOD programme.

Shadow BYOD refers to the practice of employees using unsanctioned personal devices within the workplace to connect to the network and access data.

And analysts are reportedly becoming increasingly worried that the trend, if unaddressed, could put sensitive data at risk of being breached.

The survey, which was conducted by Market Cube, found that 50 per cent of federal employees had used their device to access work emails.

Another 49 per cent admitted to using their device to download work documents, while seven per cent claimed to have jailbroken or rooted their device; a practice that in many cases allows for the installation of unapproved apps.

The report said: "The problem is, while jailbreaking and rooting can be great for the security-savvy, it could expose operating systems to unpatched vulnerabilities and encourage downloading apps from third-party marketplaces known to have malicious apps."

Worryingly, 24 per cent of employees were also found to be downloading apps outside of official app stores.

Such approaches can be dangerous for employees as apps from such sources often do not go through the same security checking processes.

And another 18 per cent said they had found malware on their mobile devices, although due to the self-reporting nature of the survey, such figures could actually be higher.

Yet despite all the risks, 49 per cent of federal employees have still not installed a security app or solution on the mobile device they bring to work.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the findings is that they are avoidable, with a comprehensive BYOD policy. Whether the federal governmet will take heed remains to be seen.