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Third-party messaging apps pose risks to enterprises

Employers are not implementing official mobile messaging platforms to regulate and secure employee communication

Gulf News

Barcelona: The instant messaging service is turning out to be next computing platform but enterprises risk regulatory compliance with unofficial apps across verticals, an industry expert said.

“Third-party messaging apps, especially those that are primarily for consumer use, do not have the necessary security regulations in place to protect sensitive or classified business information,” said Anurag Lal, CEO of US-based Infinite Convergence Solutions.

According to a study conducted by Infinite Convergence Solutions, forty-four per cent of employees regularly use mobile messaging throughout the workday, with SMS/MMS, Facebook Messenger, Skype and Google Chat/Hangouts being the most popular chat apps.

Only 17 per cent say their company has and uses an internal, company-created mobile messaging app the most.

Enterprises across retail, legal, health care and finance industries allow employees to use third-party consumer messaging apps to communicate with and send documents to colleagues, clients or customers and external partners or stakeholders, and they’re receiving mixed signals on the dangers associated with third-party messaging apps.

According to the study, 54 per cent of retail employees, 51 per cent of health care employees, 44 per cent of legal employees and 38 per cent of finance employees say their company does not have an official mobile messaging platform. However, 84 per cent of employees would use a companywide mobile messaging platform if one was implemented.

Instead of implementing an enterprise-grade platform, he said that employers are allowing their employees to use the apps they’re most familiar with from personal use, which risks information being compromised.

Lal said that enterprises across industries need to realise that a secure, internal mobile messaging platform is crucial to increase efficiency, maintain compliance and secure communication. The situation is no different even in the Gulf.

Rising in popularity

According to research consultancy TNS Middle East, about three quarters of internet users (74 per cent in Saudi Arabia and 77 per cent in UAE) are now using instant messaging every day, while 95 per cent of the users in Saudi Arabia verses 94 per cent in UAE are using it on a weekly basis.

Despite this, Stephen Hillebrand, CEO of TNS Middle East, said that social platforms are still rising in popularity with a six per cent increase in daily usage globally since 2014.

A number of Western markets lag significantly behind the Middle East in daily usage, including the UK (39 per cent) and the US (35 per cent).

Facebook has maintained its position as the world’s favourite social platform; almost one third of global internet users (30 per cent) say they use it every day. Again, Middle East markets lead global usage, with more than two-thirds of online users in Saudi Arabia and UAE using it on a daily basis.

Hillebrand said that on average, people are on four social platforms in the UAE while in Saudi Arabia, it is 4.8 platforms.

“51 per cent of people in UAE are on mobile while going to sleep while in Saudi Arabia, it is 52 per cent,” he said.

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