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The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon started when smartphones and tablets with robust capabilities and convenient form factors became ubiquitous among consumers. These devices with their touch-screen interfaces and powerful processors allowed employees who brought them to work  to be more productive on the go.

With the Consumerization of IT trends, employees are bringing their personal smartphones and tablets to work and asking you to give them access to the corporate network. iPads, iPhones, Androids and BlackBerrys are coming to a workplace near you! Employees want their email, contacts, and calendar on their devices, and are increasingly asking for access to their business applications too.

Importance of BYOD for The Enterprise

For executives and sales personnel, a “bring your own device” program lets them consolidate their previously-carried standard-issue device and their shiny, new favorite personal device. Now they can carry just one device for work and life, streamlining their communications and improving their experience.

Beyond these individuals, BYOD’s equalizing effect has allowed a greater swath of employees to bring their mobile devices to work as well. Organizations realize that enabling personally-owned devices makes employees happier and more productive, and as such, more than three-quarters of organizations allow employee-owned devices at work, according to the Center for Telecom Environment Management Standards.

BYOD Security Challenges

Despite BYOD’s direct influence on the happiness and productivity of your workforce, it also introduces risk by letting consumer devices onto the corporate network. Giving access to employee devices is tantamount to your letting your employees slip your enterprise into their pockets every time they leave the office. From their devices they access the corporate network, business applications, and your most sensitive enterprise data whenever and wherever they need to. Just as you need to take extra precautions to ensure that the board meeting notes don’t leave your iPad, they need to secure the data on (or accessed by) their devices:

  • What if they don’t have a passcode enabled and leave their device at Starbucks?
  • What if they’re synching non-public financial data using Dropbox?
  • What if they’re logging into your salesforce automation tool over an insecure wireless network at the airport?

These are just a few of the activities that can jeopardize sensitive data and expose the enterprise to mobile threats. All of this means that you need to get control over those smartphones and tablets with a secure, enterprise-grade mobile device management solution.

BYOD Security Strategies

Beyond security and compliance, simply managing BYOD is a hairy process. Even before you roll out a BYOD program, you’ll need to figure out which devices you’ll support, and for whom. And how you’ll enforce that policy. You’ll have to think about which apps you’ll make available (now and in the future) to groups of users, how you’ll provision those apps, how you’ll ensure users have the correct versions and applicable patches, and how you’ll ensure service levels.

When you actually rollout the program, you’ll need to figure out how to onboard, off-board, and make changes to mobile users and devices. Given how dynamic the mobile market is, with rapid device adoption, turnover, and an increasing ratio of devices-to-users, it makes sense to map your mobile users to your user directory (e.g., LDAP) so you don’t have to manually update your mobile system every time an employee joins, departs, is promoted, or changes groups.

You’ll need to find a way to set policies, map them to users and devices, and easily change them when your business needs change. You’ll need to monitor and support the devices, both proactively (e.g., keeping an eye on device statistics and application performance) and reactively (e.g., locking or wiping a device upon its loss or theft). You’ll need visibility into your mobile network and compliance status, and the ability to see your mobile devices alongside the rest of your IT assets by integrating with corporate security information and event management (SIEM) solutions.

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