BYOD firms remotely wipe 130,000 mobile devices every year, finds Fiberlink

Is BYOD becoming a dictatorship?

Remotely wiping mobile devices is proving to be a hugely popular feature for enterprises and IBM's Fiberlink division has some numbers to prove it. The firm's figures show that an average of 450 mobile devices are now being wiped every day by users of its MaaS360 cloud platform.

Pennsylvania-based Fiberlink claims its platform is used to manage millions of devices in large enterprises across the globe as one might expect for a firm that became part of the IBM stable after its acquisition in 2013.

MaaS360 offers a range of Mobile Device Management (MDM) features but it is device wiping that has recently caught on across all of its verticals.

Enterprises are now wiping one mobile device every three minutes, equivalent to 450 per day or 130,000 in the last year. This was equivalent to 10-20 percent of the average firm's device fleet in a year, Fiberlink said.

The firm's definition of a 'wipe' covers both complete wipes - about a third of devices - and partial wipes which account for the other two thirds. Half of these happen automatically with the other half initiated by an admin.

Interestingly, the primary reason for the automatic wiping of devices is not theft or loss but it becoming 'jailbroken', which refers to Apple devices. Given that one of the platforms main selling points is the ability to manage BYOD, this would presumably only happen if that breached the device's use policy when connecting to an enterprise network.

Mobile devices are also wiped while being enrolled as part of a BYOD system or for something Fiberlink describes as "application compliance," a euphemism for users who install non-approved software.

What Fiberlink's numbers don't tell us is what employees think about all this remote wiping. There is some evidence that many employees at US firms feel compelled to sign up to such a possibility as part of BYOD whether they feel comfotable with this or not.

A recent survey by Zixcorp found that 71 percent said they'd avoid using a personal device for work if their employer could remotely wipe it. This also suggested that the principle of unintended consequences could come into play - some employees said they'd delay telling their employers about a lost device if that meant risking losing personal data forever after a remote wipe.

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