The security risks of rooted smartphones

The security risks of rooted smartphones

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies have become beneficial not only to employees but also to business owners. Not only do these allow users to finish tasks from a device they own, but companies also save money by eliminating the need to buy equipment.

However, BYOD policies come with security risks. For instance, employees can expose sensitive business information when they use unsecured networks or lose their gadgets. BYOD may also pose a serious risk to data safety through smartphone rooting.

What is it?

Smartphone rooting, also called jailbreaking, is an act of bypassing the internal protections of a mobile operating system (OS) to gain complete control over it. This gives the device owner all the privileges of the “root” user and access to everything the phone has to offer.

Most smartphone manufacturers lock down their devices to prevent people from unintentionally damaging the phone or opening it up to security risks. However, some users root their phones because they want to have more options on how to use it.

How does rooting pose security risks?

Once a smartphone is rooted, some of its built-in security features like patching are disabled. Since today’s smartphones operate in an environment filled with attacker threats, buggy or malicious applications, and user negligence, anything that reduces the original controls in a smartphone presents a higher risk.

Many users root their phones and engage in unsafe behaviors such as installing pirated applications. Some programs that they install may even be secretly loaded with malware, and in this case, the security risk becomes very evident.

Should you allow rooted smartphones at work?

No. While there are many people who innocently root their smartphones to customize their experience, remember that rooting significantly alters the security posture of the device. Since it could expose enterprise data and applications to a myriad of cyber threats, modified phones are risky for work use and should not be used.

So what can your business do about it?

To mitigate the risk, some companies are implementing an acceptable use policy (AUP) that explicitly states that rooted devices are not allowed to access corporate networks, applications, and data.

An effective mobile device management (MDM) policy and tool should let your IT managers actively detect rooted devices using MDM systems such as Microsoft Intune. This solution provides reports on device software versions and checks if they are up to date.

The best solution is to have a stronger mobile device policy that detects certain violations. This way, not only will employees get to do their work on a device they’re comfortable with, but they will also be doing their part to keep your data safe from security breaches.

Managing your employees’ mobile devices shouldn’t be difficult. F1 Solutions makes it easy by offering a comprehensive Microsoft Intune package that will ensure your data’s safety, no matter what smartphone is used. Call us today to learn more.


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