Apple has been making lives easier for years with its personal electronics devices, and its new step towards security will bring relief to many people, and in the age of BYOD (bring your own device) many businesses with be grateful. An increase in two digits, from four to six, might not sound like a big difference, but, in fact, it is. With a four-digit passcode there are only 10,000 possible combinations, and the bump up to six digits allows for 1 million possible combinations.
According to the website Cult of Mac: “With a brute-force computer, it takes on average 40 seconds to attempt every passcode; theoretically, it would take a maximum of 111 hours, or 4.5 days, for a computer to crack a four-digit passcode. Bump it up to a six-digit passcode and it’d take the same machine 11,000 hours, or 458 days.”
The Age of Flexible Work Arrangements & BYOD
Companies increasingly allow personal devices to be used in the workplace, and allow employees to work from home. According to a recent study by the Quarterly Review of Economics, people who work from home are more productive (the study showed a 13 percent increase), less exhausted, and less likely to leave a job. As more people work from home and on the road, and want immediate access to their personal and professional information, BYOD has become popular.
According to a Ponemon Institute study on the security impact of mobile device use by employees, many employees want to use their cell phones, but don’t have a full grasp of how security is being impacted or could be breached. Here are some telling numbers:
- 70% of respondents said that BYOD makes them more productive because they have access to personal and professional information in one spot.
- 62% of respondents reported that access to corporate information via mobile devices is “essential” to productivity.
- 38% said that they are more efficient and work time was reduced by roughly 30 minutes.
- Only 20% of participants reported receiving training on security of corporate content on mobile devices. Of those who were trained, 74% reported that it was not helpful in reducing security threats on mobile devices.
- 66% said that they “frequently” or “sometimes” download apps that aren’t approved by their companies.
- Only 19% check for viruses or malware, and 22% believe this behavior invites any danger to their company.
Can a Passcode Fix Security Problems?
Apple’s new security option is going to help, no doubt. Breaching a password is one issue, but security concerns extend beyond passwords. One of the major benefits of Apple’s new passcode option is that many companies will have to review their mobile device policies. Emails, client information, legal documents, finances, and other important information are sent from and stored in mobile phones. To say this is delicate information is an understatement.
Here are some suggestions for tightening security:
- Review all vulnerabilities in security including devices, networks, and applications.
- Require password protection.
- Have detailed security protocols for each electronic device.
- Determine which activities can be performed and which can’t on devices.
- Consider periodic IT check-ups on devices.
In the modern workplace, being able to balance flexibility with security is key to a productive and safe business. Properly training employees, setting clear expectations, and instilling trust in employees is important. If employees are trusted they will want to protect your company’s valuable information, but they can’t do the right thing without clear and accessible policies.
Kate Lee is Director of Research and Strategy for Fronetics Strategic Advisors