IT Executives Worried About Employees Using Chat Apps

messaging apps and IT security

Nearly 70 percent of companies are concerned about employees using third-party messaging and chat apps to communicate and send documents internally, according to a survey of 397 IT enterprise decision-makers by messaging and mobility specialist Infinite Convergence.

The study also found that 59 percent of IT decision-makers think third-party messaging apps and chat tools are insecure for enterprise communication, and 41 percent of companies ban the use of one or more third-party chat apps. Additionally, while 84 percent indicate that internal enterprise messaging systems are a more secure option, less than half currently use an internal messaging service.

When it comes to bring your own device (BYOD) policies, 41 percent of survey respondents indicated that more than half of their employees use personal devices for internal messaging and to access company information. "With BYOD, enterprises have to deal with a whole new realm of IT concerns that they did not previously face: the consumer's own device and the information exchanged on it," Anurag Lal, CEO at Infinite Convergence, told eWeek. "Enterprise IT teams didn’t have to contemplate that before BYOD was an option.

Not only do they have to deal with consumers' devices, but also the applications on their devices and the ability of those applications to transfer enterprise information or content." Lal explained that with the advent of BYOD and over-the-top applications, enterprises are finding it more difficult than ever to control employee messaging.

According to the survey, two out of three executives said they are concerned about employees using their personal devices to communicate and send business-related documents and information, and more than half are concerned about former employees still having access to company information on their personal devices after they leave.

The study found that at least a quarter of companies ban some of the most popular apps and chat tools for internal communication, including Google Chat (30 percent), WhatsApp (29 percent), weChat (27 percent), Skype (26 percent) and iMessage (26 percent).

Email is considered the most secure way to communicate enterprise information, according to the IT executives surveyed, with 89 percent considering it a secure medium. The study also found that only a third of companies mandate that internal communications outside of email go through a corporate-controlled messaging system.

More than three quarters (77 percent) of enterprise IT executives indicate a highly secure, simple and intuitive internal messaging service would be valuable compared to their current enterprise communication system. Of the respondents who said they currently have a regulated internal messaging system in place for employees, more than half said they cannot remotely wipe information sent through that system from an employee’s device. "Enterprises need to train their end users to exercise a level of responsibility when transferring enterprise information.

Employees need to be aware that their consumer apps are not secure and only use enterprise approved or mandated apps for internal communications," Lal said. "In today’s environment, where enterprise information is breached constantly, this is the only way companies can have control over how information is exchanged within the enterprise."

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