Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer showed us that BYOD isn’t a fading trend. What does the permanence of this trend mean for your business's BYOD policies? Challenges in security, data leak prevention, and bandwidth limitations at the very least. But perhaps it also means an opportunity to be at the forefront of IT security innovation--by implementing solutions that work for, and with, your company goals. It’s vital for your organization to know the threats that mobile devices can bring to your network.
Since mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones contain their own native IT security measures, some business leaders and IT managers question the need for the additional security that can be provided by a mobile data management system. The simple answer to this question is that mobile data management programs can serve to both enforce and provision the native security present on handheld devices. A more nuanced answer, however, would point out that MDM products could produce an "integrated security" environment in which mobile devices become not only more secure, but also far more useful to the organization.
Most small to medium sized businesses have historically found the mobile payment space to be a non-viable solution to their business needs. It has been one of a few new mobility solutions that is too fragmented, too expensive and too cumbersome to implement successfully. Most companies have found that to add mobile payments to their business model, they need additional capital to invest in more hardware than they've ever needed before.
To counteract this feeling and avoid playing catch-up, RIM decided to innovate by recently launching a new beta platform to help Blackberry regain a hold both in the consumer marketplace, and with the emergence of BYOD, in the workplace too – but is this strategy working? Considering that the official release isn’t until 2013, a general consensus is that both users and developers are tired of waiting for this new platform. The excitement has waned to annoyance. But has it really?
If the user base is dwindling, one can easily assume that the number of developers creating apps, especially in a BYOD enviroment, would also dwindle, after all, who wants to develop apps for a company with a shrinking user base? But here are a few things to consider:
According to a recent draft of mobile security guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), businesses should seriously consider the deployment of software that can provide centralized management for mobile devices. This recommendation appears in "Guidelines for Managing and Securing Mobile Devices in the Enterprise," also known as Revision 1 of NIST Special Publication 800-124. The draft guidance goes beyond a mere recommendation of such IT solutions; it also provides detailed suggestions that SMBs can use to help them select a centralized management program for mobile devices, as well as guidance with regard to installing and using such a system.
The world of technology continues to evolve with the demand for better business solutions. Technological advancements, in IT especially, have become driven by capitalism as demand becomes greater for more streamlined and less expensive operational models. One on-trend new offering that aims to streamline business operations and promote collaboration among employees is VMware's Project Octopus. The "first viable Enterprise cloud file sharing application" promises to be the next big advancement for the modern business model in cloud computing, mobility, virtualization, and other key areas of IT impacting the way businesseses function today. Project Octopus boasts the ability to enable users to collaborate easier in a BYOD-focused market; many are calling it the start of a PC-free era in business.
Mobile devices are no longer seens as just personal objects of leisure (i.e. cell phone walk talkies or portable gaming systems). Mobile devices have evolved into indispensable business tools that are constantly used in both the home and the office. Ubiquitous use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops is to be expected in the 21st century, while the security of these devices is the almost always the sole responsibility of the owner. How secure is a business's network though when the majority of its employees are utilizing BYOD?
Mobile Device Security for Businesses
The use of personal mobile devices in the workplace is a popular trend, and employers are forced to accommodate this practice in terms of the security of their network. Businesses have had to adopt policies to protect their networks, given that the constantly evolving mobile device market brings numerous security challenges with each new product or release. These bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies range from requiring devices to be configured with stronger passwords, to prohibiting certain applications from being installed, to requiring all data sent or received on devices to be encrypted. A more draconian BYOD policy may include limiting activities that employees can perform on personal mobile devices at the workplace, such as only checking corporate email, and might even include regular IT audits to guarantee compliance and identify violations.
Mobile Device Detection and Monitoring
BYOD policies can only take you so far, however, when it comes to security. Some mobile device operating systems are inherently more robust than others, and some are simply not designed with security in mind - exposing your systems to vulnerabilities no matter the efforts of your IT team.
Some larger enterprises have recognized the IT security dangers of BYOD for years, requiring all employees to use a standard cell phone platform (most often RIM's Blackberry). However, that type of restriction is not practical in today's diverse smartphone market.
Fortunately, next-generation technology is providing solutions to the BYOD security problem. It is now possible to identify and monitor all mobile devices on a network simply on the basis of their network traffic. Tracking mobile-specific plugins and utilizing platform-specific intelligence allows for automatic identification of mobile device manufacturer, OS, and version, as well as a list of vulnerabilities, for every device on the network.
Network administrators now can much more easily identify problems such as policy violations, unproductive or unauthorized user activity, as well the variety and sensitivity of information users are accessing. These mobile device monitoring and tracking software packages offer various real-time alert and report options so that IT managers and company executives can make well-informed decisions regarding mobile devices on corporate networks.
IT managers have identified mobile security as one of their top three concerns in 2012. Don't fall behind in mobile security - contact iCorps today.
Research in Motion, the producer of the BlackBerry smartphone suffered a blow last month when Yahoo! offically switched all employees a new iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X, HTC EVO 4G LTE, or Nokia Lumia 920, including a company-paid data and phone plan. Yahoo! will also discontinue IT support for the BlackBerry.
In the press release announcing the popular decision, new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Meyer wrote, "We'd like our employees to have devices similar to our users, so we can think and work as the majority of our users do."
Most Yahoo! employees are happy with the switch, more than ready to get rid of their BlackBerrys, which have been waning in popularity for some time now. Most have praised the decision, but some IT security experts are questioning the safety of these devices over the uber secure BlackBerry.
BlackBerry vs iPhone vs Android Smartphones -- Which Is More Secure?
BlackBerry is and remains a highly secure mobile device platform. It was originally designed with corporate-grade security in mind, and RIM has worked hard to maintain that focus with all of the new versions of the BlackBerry operating system.
The BlackBerry 7 OS was recently rated the "most secure OS" in a report by software security specialists Trend Micro. Blackberry 7 scored 2.89 out of a possible score of three, with the iPhone 5 OS coming in a distant second with a score of 1.7, and the Android 2.3 OS coming in at the bottom of the heap with a security score of just 1.37.
The report praised the BlackBerry 7 OS both for its robust security-conscious design and the ease of use in the set up of security features. The iPhone was mentioned positively in that it did allow easy app "sandboxing," and because it does not include any type of removable storage (always a major security risk). The particularly low score that the Android 2.3 OS received was due to the fact that although "sandboxing" of apps was possible, it was very cumbersome, so the majority of users did not bother. This, of course, is a major security vulnerability, and hopefully most corporate users will be savvy enough to know to keep their apps out of their OS.
Although earlier versions of the iPhone OS were notably lacking in security features, the iPhone 5 OS offers users all of the security basics. An iPhone 5 is probably secure enough for your needs, but there are definitely some risks involved. Some analysts have questioned Yahoo!'s timing of the switch to smartphones in terms of security, possibly exposing themselves to security risks by pulling the trigger too early. The iPhone OS 6 is rumored to include several major security upgrades.
If the highest level of security is vitally important to you, you can feel the most secure with a BlackBerry.
Want to learn more about mobile security and how it can affect your business? Contact iCorps today.
Bring Your Own Network (BYON), an offshoot of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, is steadily circulating in businesses around the world. BYON allows users to establish their own mobile networks even within the vicinity of their corporate network. The meteoric rise of BYODs and BYONs stems from their capacity to organically meld with cloud computing systems. However, since most mobile devices have the capability to create dynamic area networks (DANs) through embedded wireless hotspot features, the threat to internal networks becomes more imminent – stretching far beyond the presence of individual devices to rogue individual networks.