Woman using smart phone in the night showing how companies should ensure secure communications with the growth in BYOD at workplace

New Working Norms Make Securing the Communications Channel a Top Priority

Streamlining processes and increasing efficiency through the use of technology has become a business imperative in the digital age. Technology is transforming how and where work gets done with the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the use of mobile messaging and a more mobile and distributed workforce. As these trends continue to proliferate the workforce and workplace, securing the communications channel should be a top priority for enterprises.

BYOD trends

The BYOD workplace environment is here to stay. Enterprises are increasingly embracing BYOD to provide a flexible work environment, reduce device and maintenance costs and increase employee productivity. Statistics show that BYOD is the new norm in the workplace with a recent 451 Research study finding that 80% of employee respondents use their smartphones for business purposes on a daily basis and other research indicating that 59% of organizations have adopted BYOD. The rise in BYOD has popularized the use of consumer-grade messaging apps as business communication tools.  This is bad news for enterprises because popular consumer messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat lack central management capabilities and don’t contain critical encryption and security protocols needed to lock down communication and align with compliance and regulatory laws.

The 451 Research study also noted that “the reality is that flexibility in the workplace without the right technology can lead to a fragmented collaboration landscape, resulting in limited productivity gains. Furthermore, such a situation lends itself to less than adequate security practices, which can place the organization at risk. Whether they realize it or not, many organizations are playing with fire because they aren’t taking a comprehensive approach with their business communications and collaboration technology strategy.”

Enterprise-grade messaging and mobility solutions bring together collaboration, productivity, security and compliance that can help enterprises securely evolve with the BYOD trend.

Mobile messaging on the rise

Messaging has surpassed email as the primary means of business communication. With consumer-grade messaging apps becoming more and more popular – WhatsApp alone has over 2 billion users – employees are bringing them into the enterprise to communicate and collaborate. As the number of employees using consumer-grade messaging apps continues to grow, so will enterprise security, privacy and compliance risks.

These risks are illustrated by the widely publicized security loopholes and threats associated with WhatsApp. A recent Business Insider article noted that “WhatsApp disclosed 12 security vulnerabilities last year, according to the U.S. National Vulnerabilities Database, including seven that were classed as critical.” One of these was a cybersecurity breach discovered last May that left WhatsApp users vulnerable to malicious spyware installed on their smartphones.

Usage of these apps in the enterprise can be costly. The financial cost of data breaches – $3.92 million on average according to IBM’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report coupled with the reputational damage from these breaches should serve as a wake-up call for enterprises to put security at the top of the list when it comes to evaluating enterprise messaging and collaboration platforms.

For some businesses making security a priority might mean providing staff training on the usage of consumer-grade messaging apps like WhatsApp or implementing corporate policies and controls to govern the use of these applications. These measures are really not the answer to protecting data and security. The fact is, it is difficult, if not impossible, for organizations to monitor conversations and interactions via consumer messaging apps. When messaging is used to share information in the enterprise, it needs to be shared on a secure mobile messaging platform that was actually built for the enterprise.

Consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp have evolved beyond messaging into communications platforms that enable voice and video calling, access to content and the sharing of content. This makes them all the more appealing to employees as a communication tool. The key to securing mobile messaging and curbing employee reliance on consumer grade messaging apps is to provide a secure, mobile-first enterprise messaging platform that offers them the features they want and need for collaboration.

Growth of the distributed mobile workforce

Collaboration is key to enterprise success more than ever today as the workforce becomes increasingly distributed and mobile. There is no doubt that the workplace is evolving. Consider that approximately 40 percent of the workforce works remotely at some frequency, 73% of companies are projected to have remote workers by 2028 and the global mobile workforce is expected to reach 1.87 billion workers by 2022.

One of the primary reasons for the growth in the mobile workforce is the ubiquity of the smartphone – worldwide smartphone users currently number more than three billion. The mobile connectivity provided by this technology allows teams to effectively communicate and collaborate from distributed locations across the country and across the globe. And, as technology continues to fuel the growth of the mobile workforce, enterprises will need to address the security challenges that come with that.

Employees using consumer messaging apps such as #WhatsApp and #WeChat as business communication tools are putting organizations at risk. #respectdataClick to Post

The new enterprise reality of a distributed and mobile workforce points to a growing need for purpose-built enterprise mobile messaging apps that allow employees to stay securely connected in distributed locations while allowing administrators to monitor and audit usage. Enterprise mobile messaging platforms can remove barriers to collaboration while offering a more seamless, secure approach to workplace communication.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that secure, scalable mobile-first communication platforms are a necessity for the modern business. With the growth in BYOD, mobile messaging and the mobile workforce, it is more critical than ever for enterprises to make securing mobile messaging a priority. Enterprise-grade messaging and collaboration solutions allow enterprises to securely evolve with new norms in how and where work gets done by providing encrypted conversations end-to-end that secure the communications channel to ensure confidentiality, data security, and compliance.