Overview: Managing and securing mobile devices

This article was originally published on Technology.Info.
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Easy to lose. Attractive to thieves. It’s no wonder that company bosses still have nightmares over the fact that employees are carrying around mobile devices holding a wealth of sensitive company information.

By 2017, around half of the world’s companies will have in place a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy, according to estimates released last year by IT market analyst company, Gartner.

Only 15 percent of companies will never move to a

BYOD

, reckons Gartner analyst David Willis, with the remainder offering a choice between BYOD and employer-provided devices.

But whether devices are employee-owned or company-issued, the prospect of employees roaming the streets with insecure smartphones and tablets, packed with sensitive company information, is understandably enough to bring bosses out in a nervous rash.

In this Technology.info chapter, we take a look at some of the practical and legal considerations that organisations embarking on a BYOD policy need to bear in mind when they seek to mitigate the risks involved. We also speak to one organisation, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, that has already taken the plunge. And we talk to leading IT expert, CA Technologies’ senior vice president and general manager Ram Varadarajan, about why companies need to focus on not just the risks, but also on the opportunities that increased mobility could bring.

That’s not to say, however, that the risks should be underestimated. They’re still the biggest concern among business leaders - and quite rightly so. Last year, almost ten million mobile devices holding such information were ‘mislaid’ by UK workers, according to a recent survey of 2,000 respondents, conducted by Vision Critical on behalf of mobile operator, Everything Everywhere. Almost one in five (19 percent) admitted that they’d lost a device in the course of a work night out, while sixteen percent confessed that their smartphone, tablet or laptop had continued a journey on public transport, long after their owners had alighted.

It’s these kinds of horror stories that have spurred uptake of mobile device management (MDM) technology in recent years. These products enable IT teams to manage access to information centrally, as well as confine company information to an encrypted ‘sandbox’ on the employees’ personal device.

Last year, Gartner predicted that the market for MDM products would grow to $1.6 billion in 2014, from around $784 million last year. But, in a hot market like that, consolidation is inevitable. Of the six companies that made it into the ‘leaders’ section of Gartner’s MDM Magic Quadrant in 2013 -

AirWatch

, Citrix, Fiberlink, Good Technology, MobileIron and SAP - two have already been snapped up, with Fiberlink being bought by IBM in November 2013 and VMware announcing its acquisition of AirWatch in January 2014.

At the same time, vendors are extending the capabilities of their products (albeit at varying rates) to incorporate functions for securing the applications and information those devices hold, too. That’s based on the thinking that, while there’s value in helping corporate customers to track, manage and, where necessary, remote-wipe devices that go astray, there’s even more value in helping them to manage the applications that employees use.

So for now, corporate IT teams can expect more market turbulence ahead - while the need to manage and secure mobile devices has never been more important, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty for this market.

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