As millions line up to buy the new iPhone 4S, there is no denying that BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is an unstoppable force.
That's the contention of Troy Harrison, vice president of product management at Bomgar, a provider of remote support solutions.
Harrison cites recent research from Gartner that predicts that 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications of some sort on personal devices by 2014.
"Many of the popular mobile devices are built on relatively nascent, consumer-focused platforms that don't provide the underlying management controls that enterprise IT organizations are used to," Harrison said. "So as more and more employees use their personal iPhone, iPad or Android for work, IT has less and less control of whom and what is accessing its network. But there are things that IT organizations can do to keep data secure, maintain access policies and ensure service quality. "
Harrison offers five tips for how to protect your company's data from your employees' personal devices.
Remote wipe and lock. Due to the nature of mobile devices, many device management solutions are focused on securing the device if it is lost or stolen. Requiring users to install remote wiping software on their personal device before using it for work allows IT to lock down data should the device go missing. As the new mobile platforms evolve, so, too, should the ability to separate business and personal data on the devices, which will allow IT to remove company-related data without eliminating personal information.
Geo-location tracking. There are a lot of debates around the privacy concerns of GPS tracking, but location capabilities inherent in mobile devices can be invaluable in the case of loss or theft. Some Mobile Device Management solutions allow IT to send an alarm to the device to help identify the location for a user, and if truly lost, IT can then leverage the wipe-and-lock technology mentioned above.
Network authentication, authorization, accounting. IT organizations should adopt a solution that allows them to tie devices connecting to the network with each user’s identity and role, and then apply role-based policies to grant proper access privileges. This enables IT to differentiate access for different levels of employees or guests, or even by device type. It also lets IT take an active stance on tracking and monitoring how mobile devices are being used within their network.
Secure remote support. Not surprisingly, employees often rely on personal devices to conduct work while out of the office. Having a secure way to support and fix these devices from a remote location is imperative to maintaining employee satisfaction. Depending upon device type, remote support solutions allow help desks to configure devices, chat, transfer files, and even remotely see and control the device. It’s important to select a solution that supports a wide variety of devices and keeps all access and activity logs behind the company’s firewall to ensure security.
Acceptable use policy. BYOD may seem like IT's burden to bear, but employees are also responsible for keeping company information secure. One option is to require employees requesting to access the network via a personal device to sign an Acceptable Use Agreement. The agreement may include conditions, such as installing a device certificate or the remote-wipe software mentioned above. It may also state that devices can be seized if necessary for a legal matter. At the end of the day, it ensures that maintaining security when using personal devices is a shared responsibility between both the user and IT.
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