recommended reading

BYOD security monitoring is not the norm

More than 82 percent of federal computer security professionals have policies for safeguarding government data on employees’ personal smartphones -- but most have no idea whether those policies are being followed every day, according to new research.

The findings of the survey by cybersecurity compliance firm nCircle suggest that many agencies are embracing the concept of bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, for office work. Yet they are sacrificing data protection to make that happen. While government-owned electronics use “continuous monitoring” -- or near-real-time reporting of security status through sensors and other automated tools -- the technology to track personal devices doesn’t quite exist in the government yet, the study revealed.

The protective policies that most security professionals are enforcing likely are more basic, such as training employees on proper connectivity settings and requiring personnel to notify the agency of the type of phone they are using, said Keren Cummins, nCircle's director of federal markets.

“You can have a configuration policy for what those devices are supposed to look like and you can enforce that policy by sitting down” with an employee, she said. “But that’s far short of continuously monitoring what’s on the device on a day-to-day basis.”

About 90 percent of participants who had BYOD security policies said they were enforcing them, according to the study released Thursday. Enforcement for personal devices probably involves simply spot checking security posture and other periodic oversight, Cummins said. Only 62 percent of respondents said they have a strategy for conducting continuous monitoring.

“Part of the issue is our standards have gone up,” Cummins said. Continuous monitoring became a requirement less than three years ago. “If you look at the mobile device arena, it’s very complex. You have five or six different operating systems that you need to monitor,” she added. Each brand has widely different approaches to encrypting data and verifying user identities.

To gather insights, nCircle surveyed online and interviewed more than 100 government security workers, including risk and audit managers, senior executives and contractors. The study was conducted between April and July.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.