The U.S., Canada, and the U.K. recently issued orders banning the use of TikTok on government-issued mobile devices in response to cybersecurity concerns about the video-sharing app. Like some of the content found on the social media platform itself, TikTok bans seem to be going viral.
This ban isn’t likely to be limited to government agencies. In fact, we know that many chief information security officers (CISOs) are considering banning the use of TikTok on corporate devices. But implementing a ban can be challenging for any organization. This is especially true for the many organizations that have a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy for their employees. Unified endpoint management (UEM) plays a crucial role in meeting this challenge.
The FBI has warned that TikTok can share user data – such as location and browsing history – with the Chinese government. If business applications aren’t managed effectively, both personal and business data are potentially at risk. This underscores the importance of managing risk throughout the organization, and the need to assess, and thereby control the impact of the introduction of new products and technologies upon overall organizational security. This includes the use of seemingly innocuous chat and social media apps.
Managing TikTok bans on devices
The cybersecurity environment seems to become more complex, interconnected, and dangerous by the day. Our workforce is more distributed, with more remote and mobile workers than ever before. More organizations are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, having employees use personal devices – such as laptops, smartphones, or tablets – for work purposes. This has become increasingly popular as technology becomes more accessible and affordable, and as more organizations shifted to remote work arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many organizations have become the unwilling caretakers of a constantly evolving environment populated with consumer devices introduced by employees with little or no prior vetting. This practice comes with security risks and organizational challenges that need to be carefully managed.
Since mobile devices in the workplace may have access to highly sensitive information, it’s often recommended to limit application downloads to a pre-approved list. By inventorying and approving applications, the user can only access the apps that are needed while protecting company data.
Organizations need secure ways to enable their workforces across various devices and endpoint management models, and more companies are turning to unified endpoint management (UEM). UEM helps organizations manage, control, and secure all their connected devices from a single centralized interface. This enables them to add a security layer between their sensitive work data and everything else on the device, as well as to speed mobilization and enhance productivity by enabling each stakeholder. Organizations can use UEM tools to prevent unapproved apps from landing on a managed device, install apps that users must monitor on their devices, and configure a predetermined list of restricted applications.
Managing mobile risk
Mobile threats continue to pose a significant risk to an organization’s IT environment. According to Pew Research, just a third of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011. Today, 95 of Americans own a smartphone – and they’re bringing them to work. Gartner predicts nearly a third of IT organizations will even explore “bring your own enhancement” (BYOE) opportunities by the end of 2023, enabling employees to use personal wearable devices for work purposes.
Many organizations – even those that are otherwise very conscious about information security – don’t adequately address mobile security. When IT administrators with a UEM platform monitor data usage, device inventory, and vulnerabilities through continuous monitoring, security teams are always up to date. In addition to greater visibility and security, there’s also more control over corporate and private devices connected to the network environment. So, whether you’re worried about TikTok, make sure your organization has the right tools to mitigate current and future mobile risks.