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Mobile Device Management Streamlines Effective Usage to Protect Data


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March 12, 2012

Mobile Device Management Streamlines Effective Usage to Protect Data

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Mobile device management is a crucial area of IT concern as more office workers are bringing their mobile devices into the workplace. Laptops, smartphones, tablet computers – fewer and fewer employees are using company-owned devices, which means companies are facing some decisions and drawing up policy for how to handle the situation.

As captured in this Computer World report, IT staff members are working harder than ever to secure data while keeping up with the increasing consumer mobile device technology. An important place to start is by developing policies that can reduce security risks. Difficult decisions have to be made regarding personal devices with work-related and sometimes sensitive data on them. 

The most often used policies include never storing confidential data on an unencrypted device; never keeping customers' credit card information on mobile devices; personal devices, even though they don't belong to the company, being accessed by IT when needed during an investigation; and never allowing text messaging or emailing through personal accounts for business purposes.

Some issues brought up in mobile device management planning include network compromise, data loss, and regulatory noncompliance. The mobile devices and their operating systems compound these issues. 

Recently, an FBI computer crime and security survey shows that mobile devices were the third most costly security risks for companies. In fact, most companies that have not come to terms with the ubiquity of mobile devices in the workplace expect to face downtime as a result of improper use of the device and the resulting virus attacks.

Additionally, some companies are no longer allow their employees to use personal devices in foreign countries. Instead, these companies are issuing devices with software that can be trusted. 

The dominance of the iPad on the tablet scene has complicated matters for some companies that have a low-level of iOS functionality, which makes securing the data on the devices a nightmare. One way around the issue, companies have found, is to go to a trusted SaaS (News - Alert)-based mobile device management solution, which is centrally managed and all content is per-approved.

Another step in the right direction in regard to mobile device management is establishing what employees can do on their devices, not what they can't do. It's called an acceptable use policy. The goal is to secure the data so it doesn't matter who is operating or owns the device. If the data is secure, it does not matter.

Employees don't come into the company with this inherent knowledge of the user policy. A proper education policy should accompany the user policy and mobile device management strategy so that everyone is reading from the same book.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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