A new trend is starting to emerge across all corporate networks, employees bringing their own, consumer based devices into work and requesting that they be attached to the corporate network. This new trend is known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Users are shifting away from corporate issued smart phones, which have typically been Blackberry devices, to devices they feel more comfortable with, such as iOS or Android based platforms. With 82.2 million smart phone users in the United States alone, this trend will continue to pick up in momentum and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.
This has opened up a whole new set of problems, not only for corporations, but for IT firms. At least one person at each company we manage gets email on a consumer based smart phone device. The issue is no longer do we setup corporate services on their device, but how do we manage and secure the device.
Adding consumer based devices to a corporate network open up a new set of security challenges to IT providers. Consumer based products were not built with the same security and management capabilities in mind as their corporate based counter parts were. In the past, organizations would issue out Blackberry’s to their employees requiring access to corporate services. These devices were connected back to Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) where they could be managed. Security polices could be remotely issued to the phone or remotely wiped if it were lost or stolen. With consumer based devices, there is only starting to be management consoles to preform similar tasks that BES provides.
In order to be proactive to this growing trend, organizations need to adopt BYOD policies to ensure corporate data is secured on employees mobile devices. Smart phones should be, at the very least, password protected and encryption and/or remote wipe software should be installed on every device. Employees should also sign acceptable use agreements so they understand the organizations mobile use policy. Organizations should also invest in management platforms that can aide in securing and managing consumer level devices. Just like with BES, companies such as AirWatch, Fiberlink, and MobileIron have developed platforms that can manage devices across all platforms.
If the necessary precautions are made, organizations can reduce the risk of the BYOD trend now and into the future. If done right, organizations will not only be prepared for today’s devices, bur for any new device that may hit the market in the future.