I have said this before and I will continue to repeat that regardless of new technology or how comfortable people and companies become with it; what ends up being the most paramount of importance is security.
Perhaps my personal feelings toward the matter come from the fact that I was a network manager for more years than I care to mention. Back in my day, I didn’t have to worry about mobile devices, however; we were experimenting with connecting outside computers to our network.
The main apprehension that we all faced was how to allow this type of access without compromising the integrity of our security. A lot of measures were put into place, which unfortunately made the use of the technology not worth it sometimes.
Now we are experiencing something similar with mobile devices. There is nothing new in the idea of bringing your own device (BYOD) in to work and using it as a tool of your workforce. Needless to say, if you use a device that you are intimately familiar with, you will be able to accomplish a lot more.
The years may have gone by, but the concerns remain the same. A recent survey titled “U.S. 2014 SMB Corporate-Owned and BYOD Mobile Device Survey” was conducted by International Data Corp (IDC (News - Alert)). It comes as no surprise that results show midsized companies focus on mobile security.
BYOD is an instance where both ends are not moving at the same rate. There is a definite proliferation of personal mobile devices being used at work. Unfortunately, the rate at which these devices are being accepted is not quite as fast. There are more companies each day coming up with new policies to incorporate the use of BYOD, but it a slow process.
There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration. The one that always stands out is the fact that the company information has to remain secure. Fortunately we are seeing a greater number of companies developing and improving mobile device management (MDM) tools. As it becomes more robust, the software can manage these devices more effectively.
IDC's Christopher Chute said "Now, with the availability of easy-to-implement mobile management solutions, IT managers feel much more comfortable allowing personal devices access to internal IT resources." This is due to the fact that MDMs’ improved security gives the IT managers a chance to look at other factors involved with incorporating BYOD.
Gone should be the days of carrying multiple mobile devices on your person. I still know several people who carry around a company phone, a personal phone, a company laptop and a personal tablet. Trying to remember which device to use for what is anything but efficient.
If an employee can use the device that is most convenient for them, be it their own smartphone or tablet to conduct all of their business, then it does stand to reason that a lot more work will be accomplished by the end of the business day.
This is a process that has yet to be completely understood or worked out. There are both benefits and some downsides to bringing your own device to work. The convenience to the employee can be seen as a benefit to both sides. More work gets done. The company might also save money by not having to supply its employees with additional equipment. That is a big cost saving for a small and medium sized business (SMB).
One of the major downsides is the fact that there are so many new devices coming on the market that offer additional or improved features. For this scenario to work, mobile security has to keep the same pace and make sure that as soon as a new device hits the market, that security will not be compromised.
Speaking as someone who has always been able to find a way to get around company firewalls and use my personal devices at work (the advantage of having set up so many networks) I know that I’m not alone. There is no question that smartphones and tablets have blurred the line between what is and isn’t a work device.
The question to ask and resolve is how to incorporate everything into a well-functioning scenario where both parties can find value but ultimately keeping the mobile device secure. Remember that security also works both ways. Not only does the company property need to be secure, but so does the employee’s personal information.
I am sure that we will see advances in mobile security and MDM in a relatively short time. Everyone is aware of the importance of improved security. This means that policies will need to be put in place, modified as the technology changes and enforced. I’m glad that I’m not working IT any more!