BYOD practices by healthcare workers pose security risks

Nearly 89 percent of U.S. healthcare workers use their personal smartphones for work purposes, finds a Cisco partner network study. However, when it comes to security, the study found that 41 percent of healthcare employees' personal devices are not password protected, and that 53 percent of healthcare employees access unsecured WiFi networks with their smartphones.

In addition, only 52 percent reported that they have Bluetooth discoverable mode disabled on their smartphones. The study states that according to Symantec, "when a Bluetooth device is discoverable, it is very easy to scan for it using a PC and download private data."

When asked if their employers are prepared for problems that could arise from BYOD policies, 37 percent of healthcare workers replied "no" compared to 36 percent who answered in the affirmative.

A group of Cisco IT channel firms, which resell and service Cisco products in the U.S., conducted the study using a randomized, online sampling of 1,000 full-time American workers. The study's margin of error is 3 percent, according to the group.

"BYOD will cause security breakdowns and cost companies money," states the study. "Knowing some of your employees' smartphone habits can help you prepare to mitigate the impact of those events."

A survey of almost 300 healthcare organizations released in late 2012 by Eden Prairie, Minn.-based healthcare communications technology company Amcom Software found that more than 65 percent of responding healthcare facilities do not have a documented mobility strategy in place. What's more, 37 percent of the survey's respondents do not have plans to implement such a strategy in their organizations.

Of those facilities that do not have a written mobile policy, 31.5 percent currently are working on developing one, while 22 percent have a verbal policy in place. The reasons given for not having a documented mobile strategy included budget constraints, not seeing mobile as a high priority, a lack of awareness, and no leadership for development.

To learn more:
- download the Cisco study