The number of mobile devices is one of those numbers we can’t even keep track off anymore. Smartphones, tablets, and phablets now stand at millions of shipments, and already in use. The rise of the mobile is a phenomenon that’s both exciting and nerve wrecking since there’s so much to do — especially for businesses.
How do you now let users bring their own devices to work? Where is the fine line between apps and information for personal use and then for business use? Is it all right to relinquish control? Is there a way to manage this use of devices?
Cisco predicted that there would be at least 1 trillion devices in use by the end of 2013 alone. IHS, an analyst firm, conducted a study, which reveals that PC sales dropped for the first time in 2012.
Maybe, this drop is for ever. Bernard Golden, CEO of HyperStratus, author of Virtualization for Dummies wrote for CIO on the rise of the mobile phenomenon and on the increasing importance of mobile computing. He notes how APIs changed the way applications integrate with cloud-based tools and services. This, in turn, makes it easier for mobile devices to connect to these applications and help (remote) users have extended access.
The rising popularity of mobile devices riding along with a simultaneous growth of the overall Internet user base all over the world is a phenomenon that makes you sit up and take notice. Add affordable (and scalable) cloud solutions and you have a venerable mix of technology and infrastructure that can change the way you do business.
Have Stringent Policies In Place:
BYOD is a phenomenon and it can work great for business but only if you actually create a policy. Introduce the policy while onboarding employees and make clear and distinct rules about data transfers, security policies, usage of personal mobile computing devices at work, and specific instructions on using any proprietary information. The BYOD policies should also cover aspects such as PIN (Personal Identification Number), rules of accessibility, security best practices, and all aspects of data accountability in case of data theft or loss.
Don’t roll out BYOD one full sweep. As for most corporate implementations, make sure you roll it out in phases. Maybe you’d like to work from top down starting with senior management and then rolling it out to middle management. You’ll need time to see how BYOD is working out for your business and this requires deploying your BYOD policies or implementations in phases. You’d then have time to work out issues as they happen without affecting your business processes.
While you launch, do encourage your employees to exercise common sense while using devices. Encourage employees to take up basic security measures for device use, and train them to follow a clear and simple process in case of device theft, for instance. You could also have them take a restrained path to file downloads and device usage.
Bear Security In Mind:
Over half of the employers should require employees to supply their own mobile device for work purposes by 2017, according to Gartner’s Study of CIOs. BYOD isn’t without risks. A lot can happen between any of those mobile devices and your network and you’ll need ways to keep security risks at a minimum. Launching BYOD is never complete if you don’t rig up your network to the maximum to account for hundreds or thousands of personal devices connected to the network (from anywhere).
Work Out The Legalese:
BYOD isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. It calls for data management policy changes, privacy adjustments, and much more. The list of compliance and legal requirements is in itself an endless train of formalities: data and privacy protection acts, intellectual property rights, Dodd-Frank, government related regulations, and HIPAA — and this is just the start. Get legal counsel to help you with the woodwork of legal rules and regulations affecting device.
Work On Trust:
There’s mistrust. Everywhere. Tom Kaneshige points out that only 3 out of 10 employees trust their employer to keep personal information private. Likewise, employers don’t trust their employees completely to keep corporate information confidential.
The easier way is to work on the trust factor. Alternatively, you could choose the marginally difficult route: instead of battling with the lack of trust, just put systems in place that can account for this slim layer of mistrust.
BYOD encourages use of personal devices for business purposes but that doesn’t mean you have to let go of the leash. Develop your own way to scrutinize use, keep an eye on data transfers, watch the network access patterns, and deploy systems and checks in place to play up in the event of employees gone rogue.
Opt For Authentication:
Passwords are static. They are prone to hacking and they are rarely enough to secure remote access to a network if you plan to use BYOD. Richard Benigno, Senior VP of Americas, Stonesoft, writes that authentication is a better way to secure your BYOD network.
You can also opt for multi-factor authentication, which can help you make your network more secure while still keeping it usable. Multi-factor authentication works with one-time passwords, text message authentication, and the like.
Have Someone Accountable:
BYOD strategy is incomplete without effective, result-oriented leadership. It isn’t going to happen without someone responsible to ensure effective implementation and flawless use. You could choose to have IT leadership take control on overseeing policies, guidelines, and implementation, and security matters related to BYOD.
The strategic execution will cover everything from policy making to the task of commissioning departments to help support effective BYOD implementation.
It’s understandable that employers could be insecure about BYOD. If every employee works off a personal device, how does a business manage data use, and access to documents or applications? Myriad tools and applications are available to manage BYOD implementation, but will it work?
As if Internet security threats, networking threats, and internal threats (such as misappropriate of proprietary research, funds, or financial fraud) were not enough, isn’t BYOD asking for way too much? Only time will tell.
Lori Wagoner is the Web Community Manager for Ink Colour, a prominent printing equipment retailer in the UK and authorised dealer of Brother Ink Cartridges and other toner brands. Lori has blogged at Tweak Your Biz, Get Entrepreneurial and many other business and tech blogs. You can reach her @LoriDWagoner on Twitter.