Why fight BYOD? Employees are going to bring their spanking new mobile devices to work and use them. Instead of fighting it, smart companies are cautiously embracing BYOD for the sake of gains in productivity, flexibility and employee satisfaction. Implementing well thought out mobile device security and BYOD policies can keep up the pace of work while protecting information security. Here are a few tips that will help companies get the most out of their mobile device management (MDM) initiatives.
Don't Take a Blanket Approach
One of the bigger threats of information breaches and data leaks is employees using cloud storage applications like Dropbox that can lead to uncontrolled mixing and sharing of personal data and corporate data. Instead of banning all personal cloud storage apps, companies can use a mobile device management solution to block such apps when connected to the corporate network, but allow them for personal use.
Companies can also offer more secure enterprise cloud storage alternatives to employees. When it comes to game apps and social media apps, geofencing restrictions can come in handy to block these apps at work but allow them when the employee leaves work.
Adapt Mobile Device Management Policies to Geographies
Regional policies are especially important for large multinational organizations and corporations. BYOD and mobile device management are still in their nascent stages. In some countries these trends are highly developed and widely accepted while in others they are not. That is why a global mobile device management strategy may not work. Moreover, employees in different regions use different types of mobile devices and do different types of things with their devices. All these must be taken into consideration while developing mobile device and BYOD policies for each region.
Know Not All Users Will Update Their Devices
One of the basic ways to keep mobile devices safe and secure is to ensure that devices remain updated to the latest version of the iOS or Android operating system version with all the security bug fixes. However, when employees bring in their own devices, they may not upgrade the OS to get the latest firmware or even be aware of it. Moreover, companies cannot force employees to spend money and upgrade their mobile devices in cases where the latest OS version is not supported on the older employee owned devices.
Organizations should have BYOD policies with an approved list of supported devices for corporate network access. The list should have a range of device types and operating systems that IT can reasonably support, including the latest and more popular devices. In cases where the employee cannot obtain an approved BYOD device, a company issued device is the answer.
Recognize Android Devices are Not All the Same
Unlike Apple’s proprietary iOS for iPhones and iPads which is refreshed in tandem on a regular cadence, Android is a mobile operating system that has been adopted by numerous mobile device manufacturers. As a result, mobile device management for Android devices can be trickier than that for Apple devices. One major issue in the US market is that the latest Android version is available at launch time only on the Google Nexus line of devices. Usually it may take several months before mobile service carriers roll out the latest Android version on their devices.
The latest Android updates are often not available for the older devices. However, since Android is so customizable, many mobile device manufactures include their own applications and software (often called “bloatware”) bundled with their Android devices. Some of the Android extensions — such as Samsung SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) and container based Samsung KNOX — can significantly improve mobile device security. Companies can make use of such Android extensions to strengthen their mobile device management initiatives.
Title image by Gemenacom (Shutterstock)
About the Author
Pankaj (PJ) Gupta, is the CEO of Amtel.
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