The proliferation of Apple iOS and Android based mobile computing devices is significant, not only in the consumer space, but also in the office. People are quick to gravitate to the ease of use, increased mobility and portability with access to applications anywhere any time.
Businesses have to contend with the fact that executives and users are eager to show off their new toys. Therefore the demands to ensure that these user owned devices are linked to company e-mail and scheduling systems are high, but doing so may be exposing organisations to uncalled-for risks.
Common approaches to this are to look at the risks, define a policy and deploy a technical control so that you gain some form of visibility into the BYOD (bring your own device) space. My view differs in the approach in that we need to follow a higher-level methodology as well as a more detailed plan of action and risk management.
A high-level principle statement needs to be defined. Here we can agree to accept or deny the proliferation of BYOD, with the proviso that if we block user owned devices, only company owned devices will be acceptable.
Define a policy based on the company business requirements as well as how the various categories within the workforce (sales or technical support staff may have widely differing access and application needs) will interact with company resources and data. Within the policy, we may define exceptions to accompany user owned devices, but this should be strict in that it will be treated as a company owned device, with little or no regard for user owned content in case a remote wipe or other management action is pushed to the device.
Technical control. The official category was defined as Mobile Device Management (MDM). These tools make it easy to centralise mobile device policy definition and device management.
Having a data classification policy in place will be a requirement. You should evaluate how mobile devices may impact your current data classification policy, as you may find that you are in active violation of your data governance guidelines.
Contrary to popular belief, most MDM solutions can be implemented at an efficient price per user for even small numbers of users, allowing SMEs to embrace new ways of doing business. However, ensuring that they do not expose client data in ways that could have long-term financial impact, especially after we have our draft Protection of Personal information Bill approved.
Selecting an MDM tool
* Does the selected vendor support the operating systems on the most common devices (Windows Mobile and Slate, Apple iOS, BlackBerry, Android and Symbian)?
* What infrastructure do we need to deploy to manage the vendor provided solution? A popular MDM route to market is to offer a fully managed cloud-based solution.
* If the software is cloud based how are your administrators authenticated and are all communications encrypted?
* Can you define your own policies for device management and do they offer some samples to fast track your implementation?
* Can you enforce conditional device lock, remote wipe as well as geo-fencing so that a device that leaves a predefined geography will be automatically wiped?
* Does the MDM solution accommodate the Android Market, BlackBerry App World or Apple iStore, and can they assist you to publish your company approved applications?
* Can updates be scheduled through your MDM solution and does it include support for custom applications?
* Does the solution offer an ‘at a glance’ inventory of hardware and software with details such as devices type, OS versions, patch levels, free space, memory utilisation and applications installed?
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