It's no secret that bringing your own device to work – colloquially known as BYOD – is on the rise, with employees increasingly preferring to work on their own familiar devices than those provided by their loving employers. A Forrester study commissioned by Cisco and released last September found that employees access a variety of work-related mobile applications on their personal smartphones and tablets, including email, calendar, web browsers and company portals.
This trend has its benefits, to be sure, but there’s also a slightly sinister side to it that has companies scrambling for solutions.
What Can We Do?
The Cisco study found that mobile security initiatives are a priority for most firms, with many expanding the pervasiveness of mobile initiatives throughout the organization. At the same time, BYOD program implementation is gaining momentum, with 46 percent of firms identifying implementation of a BYOD program as a critical or high priority in the coming year. The study noted:
Creating a comprehensive BYOD strategy requires firms to identify which mobile devices, applications, and services to support, and to provide policies and procedures to guide help-desk and customer-service support for employees. It's also critical to address security issues for networks, corporate data, customer data and mobile devices."
BYOD culture clearly has some kinks that need to be ironed out before corporations are entirely comfortable with the practice. And that's giving way to a host of new technologies that promise to make BYOD environments more secure, manageable and faster.
Responding to a Need
Take Mobile-Flex, a Celebration, Fla.-based mobile applications company that claims it has a proprietary technology that gives employees quick access to the same programs, files and data they normally access from their home-office computers. It reportedly eliminates the employer's risk of unmanaged devices, unsecured connections, loss or theft of a device, hacked or compromised systems, data breaches or employee departures.
Mobile-Flex enables employees to access their employers' applications remotely, so there is no need to write any code on the mobile device for the application to work. And no data resides on the device, so there is true security, the company claims.
But Mobile-Flex is not alone. Cisco has its own BYOD Smart Solution, which provides "a comprehensive approach to effectively design, manage and control the access" of a BYOD network. So do Dell, Citrix and a number of other leading vendors.
Last week, Bluebox Security, a mobile security startup that just emerged from stealth mode, revealed a “data-wrapping technology” that encrypts, tags and tracks data at the document level. Employees download Bluebox on their iOS or Android device, log into the app and then they can download any kind of app they want to use for work.