Opinion

BYOD doesn’t have to be a headache

Ramzi Itani, channel and alliance director – MENA and French-speaking

The term “BYOD” is becoming an increasing popular term tossed around in offices across the Middle East and worldwide. The acronym stands for “bring your own device,” and is making VARs stand up and take notice. VARs have said that managing a BYOD environment for their customers can be a daunting task. Not only do companies have to manage corporate-owned devices that are issued to employees, but many now manage devices that their employees bring into the company.

As mobile trends continue to evolve in the region, employees who bring their own devices into the workplace is the next logical step. However, it isn’t without its risks. It’s not just about protecting end-users’ vacation photos and personal information; a company’s information is at stake as well.

We have found that enterprises are now making line-of-business applications accessible from mobile devices to enable increased efficiency, increased workplace effectiveness and reduced time required to accomplish tasks. Many organisations are even developing custom applications and making plans to create corporate app stores for employees to download approved software.

Simultaneously, IT departments are expected to keep company networks and sensitive data secure. The same survey revealed that mobility ranks as the leading IT risk among organisations, that includes being perceived as more risky than virtualisation and even public cloud computing. Businesses are also losing a significant amount of money to incidents relating to mobile devices; yet despite these costs, organisations feel the risks are worth the benefits, and they are working to implement security measures to rein in these costs and keep their corporate information safe.

Thankfully, there are several ways to combat this, and the most obvious for VARs is to ensure that mobile protection and device management software is loaded onto each phone that can access company data. Symantec has a few other tips to share with VARs that, when implemented, could make the difference between a company’s information remaining confidential, and being out there for the world to see.

  • Enable purposefully: VARs should have their customers poll their employees to find out what they need access to and then enable access securely. Proactively develop a plan to provide line-of-business apps that will improve productivity while minimising risk.
  • Think strategically: While VARs plan a mobile strategy for their customers, they will need to explore the risks it presents, and take a cross-functional approach to keep data secure wherever it resides.
  • Manage effectively: Keep in mind that smartphones and tablets are endpoints, and take steps to secure them accordingly. VARs need to ensure that mobile management is integrated into the overall IT management plan, and policies should be developed and enforced as with other areas of technology.
  • Enforce appropriately: VARs may need to advise their customers to create or adjust corporate policies to accommodate devices that are corporate- and employee-owned. They should also plan for accommodating new devices being brought into their customers’ infrastructure as they’re brought to market.
  • Secure comprehensively: VARs know that it is not just devices at risk, but the information they contain. Basic password policies should be supplemented with technologies that include data loss prevention, encryption, authentication, anti-malware, and the ability to remotely wipe and disable the device to provide complete protection.

All in all, BYOD isn’t as scary as it might seem. VARs simply need to advise their customers to implement software, policies and procedures for employee-owned devices, just as they would a company-issued device. As VARs well know, it isn’t about the device, it is about the information on the device. If VARs keep that information under their belt, they are already headed in the right direction for BYOD deployments.

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