BYOD - no turning back
There's no turning back from the bring your own device (BYOD) wave, but it doesn't have to be a threat to data security.
So says Adam Ely, founder and COO of US-based start-up Bluebox, who notes that BYOD has long been a concern for CIOs and CISOs grappling with the challenges of enabling a mobile workforce to use devices of their choosing. These enterprises must still protect critical data across a range of platforms and devices, and for some, the solution has been to simply restrict the use of personal devices.
However, Ely says: "For most organisations, it's too late to stop BYOD - it's like a train that came barrelling in. Fortunately, it's not too late to manage it."
Ely notes that BYOD is beneficial for enterprises. "It makes users more productive. When a user has a device they love and carry anyway, accessing enterprise applications on those devices enables them to work wherever they are and increases their response times. So, BYOD, managed properly, is good. We see this as a major factor in sectors like IT and technology, where skills are scarce; therefore, increasing productivity is especially important."
The key to achieving the benefits without the risks is proper management, says Ely. "Many companies are still in the early stages of mobile maturity, therefore, they haven't allowed a great deal of access. As a result, they have not yet encountered major security pitfalls. But their enterprise data is on those devices, and it is only a matter of time before we see major information security problems developing."
Ely says some early mobile enterprise adopters have already experienced issues such as compromised devices, the loss of data or data that turns up in the hands of competitors or in the public eye.
"With the rapid adoption rate of mobile, we can expect to see major shifts. Within the year, we will see more problems of leakage and theft. In two years, it will be more rampant and commonplace," he says.
However, Ely says effective management of BYOD is within reach. "It's all very manageable. Mobile is just a new ecosystem, and management starts with an understanding of this ecosystem, how people use it, what data they are interacting with and what data they need. You need insight into where the data flows on and off the device, and apply proper controls in the right places."
Bluebox was created to focus on data-centric mobile security while finding a balance between IT and business user needs. Although the company is still in stealth mode, Ely will address delegates at the upcoming ITWeb IT Security Summit on the mobility management challenges Bluebox was founded to solve and the principles behind effective BYOD security management. For more information about this event, click here.