By Allie Philpin
How many times have you heard the phrase: “If I lost my phone, I’d lose everything!” Or how about this one: “Everything I have is on my phone; all my contacts, emails, documents…” If these two phrases, and others that are similar, are familiar to you, it will come as no surprise to learn that the majority of people who own smartphones and smart devices, such as tablets, iPads, iPhones, Android, etc., hold a significant amount of data on devices; and we all know how much they are now used within the workplace!
Whilst employees love the BYOD phenomenon, IT professionals, it is fair to say, haven’t; hence the rapid introduction of BYOD policies and the deployment of MDM solutions to keep corporate information that is contained on these personal devices secure in some way! But as more and more BYOD policies are implemented, and employees are now more accepting of these policies, they are also becoming more aware of IT’s ability to access the personal information they hold on these devices.
According to Gardner in their latest report, Predicts 2014: Mobile and Wireless, 20% of BYOD programs will fail by 2016, due to the deployment of MDM measures that are just simply too restricting. Add to this the demands of employees from IT managers to enable solutions that keeps their personal data separate from corporate, business-related data, which then stops, or certainly hampers, the IT department’s ability to both access and modify data and applications, and you can see why there’s been a shift in thought from employees about using their own devices in the workplace, BYOD policies and MDM strategies.
Employees finding a way around the official file-sharing solutions and approved applications that they should be using is nothing new; but employees are now waking up to the fact that vulnerability and security threats when it comes to accessing and sharing data works both ways! As such, they are now demanding IT implement these controls on their devices – oh, how the tide turns!
There is, of course, quite a distinction between corporate data and personal data – mobile service providers and other companies that offer mobility solutions have been telling us all about it for some time. And there are some organisations that give ‘too much rope’ to employees wanting to make use of cloud-based, consumer-based file sharing solutions and hence the implementation of strict, tightly-controlled solutions, applications and policies to keep corporate data secure at all times; a course of action that, according to Gartner, could lead to an overreaction to concern over security and bring down BYOD policies in the process.
Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, says: “Whether via formal BYOD programs, or just via devices coming in the back door and being configured to access corporate systems, the use of consumer technologies in the work environment presents a threat to IT control of endpoint computing resources. Given the control that IT has exercised over personal computers by developing and deploying images to company-managed PCs, many IT organisations will implement strong controls for mobile devices.”
Which basically means that IT departments may become a little over-zealous and implement policies/deploy solutions that are just a bit too restrictive; for example, being able to wipe company data from a device completely or being able to access corporate data via a single application.
So, if you want your BYOD strategy to work for both the company and your employees, there has to be a balance, there has to be ongoing communication and, probably the hardest thing to achieve, there has to be a certain level of trust!