Security experts have warned that the increased acceptance of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and the data sharing functions of free smartphone and tablet apps is posing a significant risk to enterprise security.
A study by Appthority highlighted the growing use of data sharing by free apps. The app security firm says that the prevalence of sharing mobile data with advertisers poses a major risk for companies using BYOD programmes.
"Companies need to be aware of the risks posed by mobile apps in the workplace," said president and co-founder of Appthority Domingo Guerra.
"For instance, do you want your chief executive officer walking around with an app that tracks his every move or shares his calendar details with others?"
Last month, Appthority examined the 100 most popular free apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The firm found that 96 percent of all apps examined shared some sort of data with advertisers or analytics firms.
The most common type of data collected was location tracking information. More than half of the apps surveyed were found to collect location-based mobile data.
App Store apps were shown to be the more risky option for firms. According to the report, 100 percent of the top 50 free iOS apps shared mobile data. By comparison, the top 50 Android apps shared mobile data 92 percent of the time.
A major cause for concern for the enterprise sector is the fact that 14 percent of the top free iOS apps had access to a user's calendar data. Another 54 percent of iOS were reported to have access to a user's contact list.
To better protect a BYOD programme, Appthority recommended companies create mobile app risk management policies early. The firm said policies should include employee risk models and opportunities to educate employees on mobile data sharing risks.
Appthority isn't the only firm to warn of security issues resulting from BYOD. Last year, Dell said that creating a secure BYOD channel was the most important issue facing the consumerism of IT movement.
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