“But it was free, and I thought I’d be helping my company save money if we used Bitmoji to create some cool avatars.” Famous (almost) last words by an enthusiastic employee working with one of our clients. Imagine a scenario where the marketing, HR, or any team want to boost employee engagement by encouraging the use of avatars for business profiles.
They thought Bitmoji was the perfect solution – it was free, AI-driven, and seemed like a clever idea. Little did they know that the seemingly harmless app could have serious consequences.
Many businesses have embraced these apps, not realizing the hidden security risks they pose. To be clear, we have nothing against Bitmoji, but this app is not one we are comfortable allowing our clients to use. Why? Because it’s free, and nothing free ever comes without strings attached.
The Top 5 Security Risks of Free Apps in the Workplace
Data Privacy Concerns: Whenever something is free, it’s crucial to ask how the developers monetize it. Many free apps engage in surveillance capitalism, monitoring your online activities, conversations, and preferences. They then use this data to build profiles, which are either sold to advertisers or used to target you with ads directly. In the case of Bitmoji, the app’s insistence on enabling itself in the keyboard raises concerns that your typed information could be sent for monetization purposes (not that Bitmoji are actually doing this, provided they use their great powers for good, not evil).
Malware and Phishing Threats: Free apps often come with a higher risk of malware and phishing attacks. Hackers may disguise malicious code within these apps, compromising your device and potentially leaking sensitive business information. Always be cautious when downloading apps from unofficial sources.
Inadequate Security Measures: Free apps might not have the same level of security as their paid counterparts. They may lack essential updates, leaving your device vulnerable to known security flaws. Businesses should prioritize security to protect against data breaches and cyber threats.
Limited Support and Updates: Free apps typically provide limited customer support, making it challenging to resolve issues quickly. Furthermore, these apps might not receive regular updates to address security vulnerabilities. Businesses must ensure their software is up to date to minimize security risks.
Unclear Privacy Policies: Free app developers often bury their privacy policies in lengthy, complex documents. Understanding how your data is used and protected can be challenging. In many cases, these policies prioritize profit over user privacy. Businesses should carefully review privacy policies before allowing employees to use any app.
Phew! That was lucky – didn’t make it past Velocity’s security experts
In the scenario mentioned earlier, the business was fortunate to have a reliable IT Managed Services provider, Velocity, that offered access to senior cybersecurity experts. This partnership ensured that the Bitmoji blunder was caught and prevented before it could compromise the company’s security.
As businesses, it’s essential to be vigilant about the apps your employees use in the workplace. Prioritize security, review privacy policies, and consider the potential risks of free apps. Remember that saving a few bucks on free apps may end up costing your business much more in terms of data breaches and lost trust.