BYOD is on the rise. We know this. You need a Bring Your Own Device Policy to make sure your employees don’t destroy your network. We know this too. But just when you think you’re ahead of the game, digital innovation springs yet another type of mobile device that opens yet another hole in your already porous firewall. Say what?
Streetwise lifestyle devices
Taking a look at the Global Smart Wearable Lifestyle Devices and Services Market 2015-2019 report, analysts have projected an annual growth rate of 35.14% of smart wearable lifestyle devices. Corresponding services for such devices will grow similarly at 39.06%. We’re not even talking about smartphones and tablets. No, these are the pinnacle of digital design more along the lines of wearable real-time body-stats monitoring devices and other social media-oriented gaming and video sharing devices.
Consider the Samsung Gear and, more recently, the Apple Watch. These things are wonderful because they let you carry your phone like a fashion accessory – in a much smaller much more wearable format. They’re packed with functionality letting you interact on social media like you would normally do on a phone, all the while staying connected to the internet and now making calls too.
Also think of “augmented reality” and “gesture recognition”. Augmented reality lets you interact with your surroundings through a device that collects information on location or a specific item and “augments” it by super-imposing relevant bits onto the screen. These things are at the forefront of innovation and it’s going to pick up fast. Remember how we were so chuffed about that brick of a Nokia with its old-school 3-line LCD screen, and then suddenly we had touch screens and smartphones. With this kind of BYOD, life for the IT guys is going to get messy quick, depending on which side of the firewall you’ll be sitting.
So where’s the catch?
The risks in IT security haven’t gone away. The basic rules of protecting your BYOD environment are still the same:
- Secure your data.
- Tighten network security.
- Implement a BYOD policy.
- Use encryption.
- Look at MAM (Mobile Application Management) and MDM (Mobile Device Management).
- Separate personal desktops from business desktops on each device.
- Enforce multi-layered password protection.
- Configure “phone wipe” for lost/stolen devices.
- Enforce the use of the company Wi-Fi.
- Decide which devices are actually allowed on premises.
To illustrate how the industry is evolving, even Apple are already partnering with IBM to embrace some much needed security on their iOS-based devices in the form of MDM (although they’ve been reluctant to collaborate with third-party vendors in the past, trying to ensure their user experience is consistently wonderful without other’s meddling in it). MDM is on the rise and it would effectively allow employers to have some measure of control over what gets done on these devices while being at work.
Something else to look at is a crucial bit of technology referred to as the “phone wipe”. Here employers can ensure that lost or stolen data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. Sure, this might be a bitter pill to swallow for employees but in the end, it covers both parties.
Secure your data
As you can see “secure your data” is number one on the list when it comes to BYOD. Wiping a device that contains sensitive data is one thing, but making sure you still have the data is another – it is actually the most important. This means that should your network get breached if other measures fail to protect, your data is still protected. And should it fall into the wrong hands, if it’s encrypted, better still. Thieves won’t know what to do with it.
Carefully crafting a bring-your-own-device policy is no longer optional. It has become a necessity and making sure you have an up to date backup of your critical data, not negotiable.