A smarter approach to secure BYOD management

Mobile devices have become the preferred means of accessing data and applications, wherever and whenever individuals desire.

Today, on average, individuals have two to three mobile devices. Employees expect to use their own preferred tools and technologies to do their work; personal mobile devices are chief among them.

Hence, the BYOD movement is now mainstream and growing. In fact, Forrester estimates that 70 per cent of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018.

What are the challenges of BYOD management?

The BYOD trend presents significant challenges for IT management around security, employee satisfaction and acceptance, such as:

  • The Risk and Manageability Challenge

A heavy-handed approach to managing mobile devices, where the organisation controls all the data on a device, was the widely accepted approach when organisations provided mobile devices to employees for business use.

While this approach met organisations’ needs for data security, in a BYOD environment employees will not allow this sort of draconian control over their personal devices.

A new solution is needed for BYOD management where company data can be secured without invasive control and oversight over employees’ personal data and activities on their devices.

  • The Employee Satisfaction and Acceptance Challenge

People tend to develop strong attachment to their personal devices. If businesses don’t give employees the ability to work with the tools they want to, in the manner they want to, employees will go outside of the company standards and bring their own tools and technologies to the workplace.

This rogue, unmanaged scenario poses tremendous risks to enterprise data security while creating employee dissatisfaction.

History also shows that employees are typically averse to the inconvenience of carrying a second, “non-personal” mobile device, often of a different type and operating system, to perform essentially the same function for business purposes.

Companies, on the other hand, benefit from this trend of employees seeking to achieve work-life integration on a single device without compromising their privacy.

Organisations need to enable mobility and BYOD programs to drive employee engagement and productivity, while avoiding risks to data security. The challenge for organisations is not to prevent BYOD programs, but to find new ways of satisfying enterprise requirements in this new environment.

The solution: Containerisation as winning strategy for BYOD management

The solution to this BYOD dilemma - balancing the needs of the enterprise with the demands of its users - is the “containerisation” technology on mobile devices. With installable apps that create isolated “containers” on employees’ personal devices, organisations can provide a secure environment controllable by the organization.

Unlike MDM (Mobile Device Management) solutions, which control the entire mobile device and all of its contents, containerisation is uniquely suited to BYOD management because it segregates company and personal data on the device.

Containerisation gives IT admins the tools needed to establish separate, encrypted, policy-enforced containers within personal devices, and to deliver email, browser apps, and data specifically to those containers. IT policy and management extend only to the container’s contents, which reside in complete isolation from the rest of the device. If a device is lost or stolen, IT can wipe the containers without disturbing personal assets.

There is no enterprise need for users to set device level security, as only their personal data is at risk should they choose to leave their devices unprotected.

To further protect the enterprise, communications with containers can be conducted over a private communication channel that encrypts and authenticates each connection. This eliminates the need for VPNs or other inbound TCP/IP connections from the device to the enterprise network. This approach shields the network from probes, attacks, malware, and compromised devices, as only the secure containers connect to the enterprise network.

By completely isolating personal assets from enterprise assets and the network, containerisation keeps the personal device “personal,” and free to be used for non-enterprise purposes. Employees are able to use the devices they carry at all times to access enterprise data securely, ensuring a convenient and familiar user experience.

Given the rise of such technologies that enable secure enterprise access from personal devices, it was inevitable that BYOD management would become an integral part of mobile strategies across companies.

BYOD management solutions as IT relief

As mentioned before, BYOD management is often seen by IT as a challenge in which it must balance the need for protection against data theft and unauthorised access with users’ needs for personal-device flexibility and freedom of use.

But when IT is no longer responsible for managing the device, there are significant advantages for both enterprise IT and end users. Given a safe and secure access methodology, IT should be no more obligated to support a personal smart device than it is obligated to support users’ home computers. Users in turn gain the ability to share information and access enterprise resources on the devices they’ve already mastered for personal use.

Without the requirement to manage the device and OS, and with the right BYOD platform delivering an innovative approach to secure mobile access, IT can be freed to focus on the core issue at hand i.e. securing information assets and protecting enterprise resources.

Putting containerisation to work for you

BYOD management is rapidly becoming a fact of life. Thanks to the introduction of new technologies that make it practical, workable, and secure, the BYOD dilemma - balancing the needs of the enterprise with the demands of its users - has been greatly diminished.

Now is the time to consider containerisation as the means to increasing mobile productivity and improving collaboration, while controlling costs and keeping IT focused on managing the containerised apps rather than complete devices.

Varun Taware is the Product Manager for Enterprise Mobility Management solutions at Kaseya and a seasoned subject-matter expert in IT Management and SaaS solutions.