Security vs user needs: How to get the balance right

In the BYOD era, enterprises are searching for the optimum mobile work environment — one that will strike the right balance between security and user needs.

The enterprise’s goal is to achieve the highest level of security. Employees, on the other hand, want the simple, fun user experience they get as consumers. A Virtual Mobile Infrastructure (VMI) strategy can be the ideal solution.

VMI is a disruptive technology that enables installation of mobile apps on a remote server instead of on individual devices. It allows organisations to own and control all their data on the server instead allowing it to be stored on personal devices. This reduces vulnerabilities. But at the same time, users get a native app look and feel.

The idea is to have a remote workspace based on a mobile operating system like Android. Some call this technology mobile-based Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Android enterprise cloud. Under either name, the use of a remote workspace enables all of the organisations’ apps and data to be safely stored at the datacenter.

With VMI technology, the device screen displays a flat image, which is a “mirror” to the Android cloud. This flat image can neither be analysed nor captured; even the print screen is locked. This enables more secure operation in the field while providing employees access to the most up-to-date Android work tools.

One work environment for one enterprise organisation

Using VMI enables all the employees in the enterprise to work in one unified work environment, regardless of whether they are using Android or iOS devices. When the Android OS is installed on a server, advanced security measures are put in place during the server hardening process to reduce vulnerability.

Another important outcome of having the Android OS installed on a server is that IT controls and manages only one environment for all users. Employees can easily collaborate since everyone shares the same work environment.

For example, if John, a salesperson who is using an Android device, wants to interact with Kim, a marketing professional who uses an iOS device, he can do it easily since both will have the same Android apps with the same collaborative features and file types.

Getting user input on app selection

When enterprises are planning a VMI-based BYOD strategy, it’s important to consider what apps and tools users need prior to launching the server. Consulting with affected departments, such as engineering, finance, sales, marketing and other groups, enables the IT team to better support mobile productivity.

Employees prefer to use familiar apps, and with VMI, they can continue to have the same native app experience. Moreover, VMI allows employees to safely install (from the remote cloud) any Android-based app, thereby integrating user satisfaction with business needs. The organisation can set budgets per department or per employee, and every department can install the professional apps they want to use.

A communication protocol for security and user experience needs

Another key to success when developing a remote mobile environment is building a communication protocol for maximum security. Mobile Device Management (MDM) or Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions utilize and transfer multiple protocols in one tunnel – one for each app. That introduces vulnerabilities.

With a remote mobile environment, there is only one safe communication protocol. When this communication protocol is reflecting the user experience, it needs to be built to support all mobile experiences, including rotation, vibration, visual, navigation, touch and sound. Users who depend on an enterprise work environment should be supported throughout the mobile experience.

Finding the right balance

Enterprises want to find a holistic approach that will maximise security, and employees require a mobile experience that is as user-focused as the apps they’re familiar with as consumers.

With VMI, IT can strike the right balance, delivering the security the organisation requires and the great user experience employees demand.

Anat Litan Sever, VP Products and User Experience, Nubo Software