Mobile Adoption Increases Email Usage, Putting Data Security and Governance at Risk

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When enterprises go mobile, email usage increases.

That’s just one finding in a new survey by Solar Winds about email usage and management in mid-size and large enterprises in the U.S. and Canada.

Mobile workers are not just accessing more of their email remotely (though they’re doing that, too). They are also sending and receiving larger volumes of email.

In the survey, respondents were asked about how email changed once users adopted smart devices such as smartphones and tablets:

  • 49% said that email volumes had “greatly increased”
  • 38% said that email volumes had “somewhat increased”

Why the increase? Mobile workers need to share files and communicate with colleagues. On the go, they can’t simply ask questions over the cubicle wall. Making a flurry of phone calls takes too much time. Lacking another solution for mobile asynchronous communication, these workers naturally turn to email.

Email, however, is risky. It’s still a major vector for inbound security attacks. Phishing attacks have become a favorite technique for hackers, criminal syndicates, and nation-state actors targeting corporate users who have access to critical data and servers. Data breaches rose 62% in 2013, in part because of the success of these email-borne attacks.

Email is risky in other ways, as well. Employees might email sensitive files too broadly. They might send a confidential file to a trusted colleague or outsider who then forwards the file accidentally or intentionally to an unauthorized party. Emailed files might linger on servers indefinitely, prey to hackers or curious administrators. If email is hosted by a third-party, other organizations might gain access to it. The survey found that almost 60% of respondents expected their email to be hosted within 5 years, further increasing the riskiness of email.

Enterprises should not try to eliminate email—it’s obviously an essential channel for communications—but they would be prudent to offer a more secure, manageable solution for mobile users to share files. If mobile file sharing were secure and convenient, mobile workers would not have to rely on email for conveying sensitive information. They could still use email for basic messaging while taking advantage of a secure communications solution for sending and receiving files and for syncing them across devices. Designed with security in mind, the solution would encrypt files at rest and in transit and enable administrators to track the distribution and access history of sensitive content. Commenting and real time collaboration also reduces email usage and would make end users more productive.

Such a solution would offer other features of use to mobile users—features missing from email—such as:

  • File versioning
  • Automatic notifications upon edits
  • Threaded discussions about file contents and edits

Files would be protected in a secure container on mobile devices, shielded from malware and interference from other mobile apps. Corporate data would be safe, convenient, and audited.

Business moves quickly, and mobile computing is party of that accelerated world. By complementing email with a secure file sharing solution, enterprises can keep mobile workers continuously informed and productive and while also keeping sensitive data continuously secure and controlled.

To learn about kiteworks, Accellion’s solution for secure mobile file sharing, please contact us.

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