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BYOD Demands New Approach to Mobile Device Management


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July 02, 2012

BYOD Demands New Approach to Mobile Device Management

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The lost corporate mobile device was once no more of an issue than a simple remote swipe. With the proliferation of personal devices used as corporate devices, the lost smartphone with proprietary information contained within could post a significant risk for the corporation. This co-mingling of company and personal information and data puts the focus on the importance of mobile device management

As highlighted in this Wall Street Journal piece, the simple remote swipe is not an easy option as it also deletes the employee’s personal information. Complete autonomy is not ideal, however, as an app download could result in the implementation of a virus or malware designed specifically to steal company data contained on the device. Inadvertent leaks are also possible through Bluetooth and camera capabilities when mobile device management is lacking. 

How does the corporation today allow for the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon, without putting all corporate data at risk? For Denise Messineo, Dimension Data (News - Alert) Americas head of Human Resources, one option is to ask employees to sign a document that outlines their understanding that they are being provided access to valuable company information. In return, the company has the right to delete all data from the device if necessary. 

To date, Dimension Data Americas has not used that power, but has the right to do so if mobile devices were to put the company or the network at risk. The company is putting increased trust in employees to handle information responsibly, instead of controlling employee access. If an employee acts irresponsibly, however, the policy could backfire and cause a massive data breach. This approach to mobile device management certainly puts significant trust on the user. 

For Kelly Services, a similar approach to mobile device management is in use. The majority of the company’s 8,000 employees were informed they could begin using their iPhones on the job 18 months ago. At the same time, these employees were informed that their devices could be swiped remotely if the company were concerned that sensitive corporate data were at risk. The company has already performed remote swipes, deciding to make the move on a case-by-case basis. 

The question in this situation is whether or not each of these users truly understands the risks associated with using their own device on the job. If they had to endure a remote swipe that would eliminate all photos, apps and other personal data, they first may be surprised that their employer had the right, and then that a seemingly innocent action actually put the network at risk. 

Mobile device management sets out to eliminate many of the risks associated with BYOD, but it still demands proven policies put in place by employers. Effective communication between decision makers and users is still critical to ensure the ongoing success of any mobility plan.

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Edited by Jamie Epstein

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