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Blacklisting: The battle to reduce app threats and data leaks on mobile devices

The rapid growth of mobile devices and applications currently on the market has brought upon additional pressures for IT as employees access corporate data through their personal devices. Whether a company has a BYOD or mobile device management (MDM) policy, these concerns remain the same. With more than 700,000 apps for both Android and iOS currently available on the market, and that number continuing to grow, how can IT possibly keep up?

One way for IT managers to mitigate risk for both the company and its employees is to create a blacklist that defines which apps are not safe for work use. Fiberlink researched the leading apps that IT managers have blacklisted, pulling data for both iOS and Android devices from a sampling of millions of devices we manage for organizations across the globe.

Here are the results we found:

iOS device:

  1. Dropbox;
  2. SugarSync;
  3. BoxNet;
  4. Facebook; and
  5. Google Drive

Andriod device:

  1. Dropbox;
  2. Facebook;
  3. Netflix;
  4. Google+; and
  5. Angry Birds

What is clear from the findings above is that the pursuit of protecting corporate data and ensuring employee productivity is driving the decisions behind which apps are blacklisted. The apps included in both lists will not come as a surprise to IT managers, however, it is worth noting that both recreational and corporate apps can be restrained. The more productive file sharing apps such as Dropbox, used by employees to collaborate and access important documents, puts corporate information at risk if it falls into the wrong hands. Alternatively, as a result of using recreational apps such as Google Play, often used by employees to watch movies, limits bandwidth and slows the performance of business critical apps.

As the findings above emphasise, any employee can find out their own tools for collaboration and could very well use popular apps that are designed for the mass market. The trouble is that these apps are often times not designed for enterprise use and, more critically, don’t have enterprise level security. Even when employees have the intention of using apps such as Facebook for business purposes, the security credentials are often an afterthought. IT managers cannot afford to assume that all their employees will have company security in mind at all times.

It is highly likely that the number of apps entering the enterprise, both recreational and for business will keep accelerating. In order to be best prepared, many IT managers are exploring the use of mobile application management to deliver an easy-to-use enterprise app catalogue for employees, with full security and operational lifecycle management across mobile device platforms. Organisations taking this proactive approach will continue to have access to the best technology options to win the long-term battle to contain corporate data and reduce risks, without restricting employee productivity.

Neil Florio is VP Marketing at Fiberlink

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