With more and more companies allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work, whether for convenience, cutting costs or a combination of both, it’s become imperative to develop a mobile device management plan. The BYOD environment creates risks for both individuals and companies. Unscrupulous criminals have discovered that mobile devices are an ideal entry point to steal data, disrupt networks and wreak havoc on business operations.

Although keeping mobile devices secure should be a priority for organizations, the complexity of such an undertaking prevents many from actually instituting a comprehensive management plan. With employees using a wide variety of devices and carriers, it’s challenging to find solutions that will successfully monitor, secure and support the functions necessary for the enterprise.

The lack of a comprehensive device management plan, though, is putting your organization in jeopardy and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Why Companies Avoid MDM

These days, most people carry at least one mobile device and have an intense loyalty to the device they prefer – and resist the need to carry more than one device. Allowing employees to use their own devices creates a win-win situation in many cases, since employees happily use their existing devices that they’re familiar with and the company realizes cost savings by not having to purchase dedicated devices for all employees.

The trouble is that many employees resist efforts by their companies to install security and monitoring tools onto their devices, for fear of reduced privacy and the inability to use apps or programs that aren’t compatible with the security tools. Because most devices cannot compartmentalize data into “personal” and “work” categories, if something goes wrong and the IT security team determines that a “wipe” is necessary to secure the device, the entire device will be cleared, not just the company data. Many employees resist the notion of their employer having that kind of access and control of their devices, and many organizations are reluctant to create potential privacy violations. The end result is a lack of comprehensive device management plan.

While privacy is certainly important, it is also important for companies to manage access to the data on their networks via mobile devices. They need to know when, where and how employees are accessing crucial data, and what to do when that data is compromised. Failing to do so could mean the loss of time, money, competitive advantage and more.

Implementing Mobile Device Management

Because the BYOD space is growing and becoming the norm rather than the exception, there are a number of solutions available that allow IT security departments to manage multiple device types across multiple carriers.

When you’re considering management plans, there are several factors to look for:

Cross Device Support

Within one organization, there is the potential for dozens of different devices to be accessing the network at one time – dozens of different phone models from several manufacturers, not to mention tablets. Any solution you choose for managing your employees’ mobile devices needs to across multiple platforms; any updates need to be easily installed and available immediately.

Security

At minimum, your device management solution should meet minimum security features. These include a check of the device configurations to ensure that it has not been jail broken or hacked, a standard check of all mobile applications to ensure that they do not contain malware or viruses, password management and remote wipe capabilities. Ideally, the MDM vendor should have reporting capabilities so management can easily determine the security status of every device accessing the network.

Maintenance

Many MDM solutions offer the ability to maintain devices and troubleshoot issues, ensuring that the devices work properly; a phone or tablet that is not working properly may prevent security solutions from performing as intended. The ideal program will provide automatic updating, and identify potential problems and notify the user immediately with a solution.

These are only a few of the factors to consider when evaluating MDM solutions – but they must be considered. Even installing the minimum security protections in your BYOD environment reduces the chance that you’ll become victim of theft or disruption via mobile devices, making it imperative that you create implement a policy as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. The cost of a solution is negligible when compared to the loss of money and productivity that a security breach will cause.

About the Author: Daniel Conway blogs about internet security issues. He is an internet security expert, and advises companies of all sizes on MDM solutions and BYOD issues.

Comments  

 
0 #7 Georgina D 2012-12-20 19:49
Though I understand the purposes of the BYOD policy, I just don't believe that it is as effective as using workplace supplies rather than my personal ones.
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0 #6 alexandra fleming 2012-12-20 19:06
Maintaining a secure server would be my biggest fear in using BYOD policies. Course there are always fears in new products at first.
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0 #5 Lacy 2012-12-20 19:03
Constantly having to update the system is something that is a natural progression in the world today. We can't expect things to always update themselves.
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0 #4 Teresa 2012-12-20 18:12
Security risk has always been a concern of mine with BYOD policies. I think that we should just stick to using what is provided by our work.
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0 #3 Leslie 2012-12-20 18:09
It sounds like every device, no matter what end of the spectrum you are working on, needs to be up to the proper standards to really have the MDM system work accordingly.This could be difficult for many if budget is an issue.
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0 #2 Parker 2012-12-20 16:56
I have found BYOD and MDM to be very easy to implement in my company. It was confusing at first, I'll admit, but has changed the way we work and our productivity has increased.
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0 #1 Brianna 2012-12-20 16:54
I have always been interested in the BYOD concept at work, but unfortunately, my companies execs believe that it would be too hard to maintain security.
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