People have been talking about mobile technology's rise in the enterprise for years, but phenomena like bring-your-own-device programs are finally moving beyond the realm of trends into widespread, rapid adoption. A recent study from Good Technology found that the number of people globally who use their own smartphones in the workplace is expected to grow by nearly a third in the year ahead, from 132 million people currently to 174 million by the end of the year. With that rise, the number of business app installations is skyrocketing as well. But mobile apps still face substantial software security hurdles, creating an opening for developers who are willing to take the extra steps to build secure apps.
According to the Good Technology study, the number of workers bringing their own smartphones to their jobs will reach 328 million by 2017. More telling for developers, though, is that growth rate for enterprise app activations is accelerating. Activations were up 54 percent in the final quarter of 2013, an increase from the 42 percent growth rate in the previous quarter. Document editing accounts for the most popular business function for enterprise apps, but cloud storage and business intelligence programs are also seeing an increase. Another trend is that companies are investing in internal app development.
"What we get most excited about are the kinds of applications enterprises are building themselves," Good Technology CEO Christy Wyatt told Re/code. "We saw even more aggressive growth in Q4."
Securing the enterprise app
With application adoption growing and companies investing more in internal development, some questions still remain, however. Notably, mobile software security is becoming an increasingly prominent concern. A 2013 Sophos report found that Android has surpassed Windows as hackers' most targeted platform, a recent eWEEK feature noted.
"If the hackers are moving to mobile, both Android and iOS users should be scared – very scared," eWEEK contributor Don Reisinger wrote.
More business users in the mobile space could accelerate that trend even more, but the targets are already out there in many cases. A recent survey from security firm MetaIntell found that 92 percent of the top 500 Android apps contain either a security or privacy risk, eWEEK noted. And iOS users aren't immune either.
At the same time, developers have tools at their disposal to improve software security for mobile apps. Using static analysis software and peer code review as part of a secure development lifecycle, programmers can build more secure features into their apps. With open source scanning, organizations can identify software being brought in that may contain potential risks. With enterprise mobile adoption increasing at such a rapid rate, there is clearly a growing market for solutions that corporate IT departments can feel safe whitelisting. If the accelerating growth in workplace app installation is any indication, app security will be a topic raised in a widening array of businesses. App developers would be wise to deploy the tools that can help them ensure they're on the right side of the security conversation.
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