The movement to adopt bring your own device (BYOD) policies should no longer be looked at as a growing trend but rather as a business reality. BYOD is here and it’s not going anywhere. Nearly a majority of organizations now employ BYOD policies, while a vast majority of workers (more than 80 percent) use their smartphones for work purposes, even if the companies they work for haven’t authorized such use. There are certainly many compelling reasons for businesses to adopt BYOD, from having more productive and happier workers to saving on general operational costs. But implementing BYOD is proving to be a difficult process for companies. At the forefront is the precarious balance so many businesses seek to attain--promoting greater freedom for employees while still protecting company data. Indeed, security remains a key issue for enterprises using BYOD, and finding the right security solutions is anything but simple.
The concerns over BYOD security are not easily dismissed. With employees using their own mobile devices, it becomes that much more difficult to manage them due to their variety and capabilities. One of the most common ways to make BYOD security more manageable for companies and IT departments is to use mobile device management (MDM) software. MDM provides a number of notable advantages, including being able to effectively divide an employee’s device into work-related and personal-related functions. This device segregation ensures workers will be able to keep on task and not get distracted by personal matters on their smartphone. From a security standpoint, MDM helps IT departments monitor each device and can even make them capable of remotely wiping a smartphone or tablet should the device get lost or stolen.
When it comes to mobile device management systems, there are a large number of products and solutions available for enterprises to use, each with different features. One such service is called AirWatch, which helps companies manage a wide number of devices, helping them keep up to date with the constantly changing mobile device market. AirWatch also helps businesses better manage which employees have access to specific company resources while also making data segregation easier. Another solution is Centrify for Samsung KNOX. This solution is specifically tailored more toward mobile security by helping IT departments manage application access and protect emails and corporate files. ForeScout is another solution that is more flexible depending on the business. The service has different levels of security features reflecting the size of budget an enterprise has. ForeScout also shows the visibility of each device all in real time, which can greatly boost an IT department’s efficiency.
Some security experts, however, say so much focus on MDM actually misses the mark. They say the priority should be to protect the data, not the devices. Securing devices is a difficult process, and since employee behavior can at times be unpredictable, security lapses are almost a guaranteed to happen. Instead, some experts say data security needs to focus on ideas like mobile application management (MAM). This concept means IT departments are focusing on the applications that are used on devices, ensuring those apps have proper security measures and rejecting any apps that prove to be harmful to security. Policing apps also keeps any monitoring of devices to a minimum, increasing the freedom employees will feel, which is such a valuable benefit of BYOD policy.
Branching out from the idea to focus on data security is the push to use Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) for companies promoting BYOD. This service uses virtualization to take desktops and deliver them to any number of mobile devices. In other words, as long as employees are using a smartphone or tablet with an internet connection, they can access the service needed as if they were using a traditional desktop. DaaS essentially also helps a business set policies that determine where and when employees can actually use the service. This helpful tool is proving to be quite useful for BYOD purposes and ensures a greater degree of security.
While there are many solutions to choose from, there is no one right answer to solving BYOD security challenges. Companies will have to evaluate their needs and goals to make the right decision for their organization. No matter what choice is made, the one major priority is the need to improve security as more employees use personal devices in the workplace. In this way, they can make the most use of BYOD while addressing any of the problems.