The rapid rise of the cloud, in conjunction with mobility trends like bring-your-own-device (BYOD), has significantly shaped today's workforce. Rather than being locked down at a desk, employees can access the corporate resources they need from anywhere. But while enabling workers to go mobile offers certain advantages, it also creates data protection challenges for the business.
As the Mobile Workforce Report published by iPass last month indicates, workers are willing to contribute more hours to employers who have authorized a BYOD program. The survey found that employees working for companies that allowed them to use personal devices for work often put in as many as 20 hours more per week than their traditionally desk-bound counterparts. The researchers also uncovered a trend in which employees work around IT rules and regulations to access company data on their mobile devices whether the organization allows BYOD or not.
The research from iPass lends credence to the often cited productivity advantage of allowing BYOD in businesses. However, fully leveraging enterprise mobility requires a robust security strategy. It is clear that outright forbidding BYOD is not effective in many situations, so it has become necessary to craft new strategies to manage these devices in alignment with operational demands.
BYOD requires centralized management
The challenge of security is implementing an effective system of checks and balances. It is possible to allow employees to use their own devices for work purposes, but organizations need to be able to monitor and manage where their data goes.
According to a recent white paper published by Frost & Sullivan, the answer is in centralized management technology.
"Workplace technology has evolved and we now have business users leveraging online storage boxes, USB thumb drives, as well as their own personal tablets and Smartphones," said Frost & Sullivan Principal Consultant Jarad Carleton. "In the era of BYOD, online storage services, and a plethora of storage devices the size of a thumbnail or smaller, the need to implement a centrally managed solution that secures documents anywhere and on every device has never been more important."
Carleton further discussed the increasing value of intellectual property, the protection of which has become essential to revenue generation for many organizations. This makes these assets a prime target for cybercriminals. While BYOD has created more possible vulnerabilities, businesses need to take a comprehensive approach to enabling the trend rather than attempting to stifle it. Echoing the conclusions drawn from the iPass data, Frost & Sullivan analysts said that the answer is not an all-encompassing prohibition of mobile devices in the workplace. Instead, IT leaders should carefully consider security solutions across several areas of value.
Measuring security solutions
According to Frost & Sullivan, a comprehensive evaluation measures potential solutions according to their ability to protect data in the present as well as in the future. This places a greater importance on adopting flexible solutions with the ability to scale to meet new threats, business needs and compliance requirements.
Organizations can start on the path to better data security by crafting policies that match the needs of the business. Such policies should dictate how employees should handle corporate information on personal devices and who owns the data once it is stored. For example, policies should address concerns such as whether the business has the right to remotely wipe a mobile device when the employee leaves the company.
In addition to enforcing policies, an effective security strategy also allows for the ability to document and monitor the technology solutions that are already in place. Frost & Sullivan pointed out that a centralized security solution, working in conjunction with a similar documenting system, allows organizations to ensure that best practices are being followed every time that an employee accesses sensitive data.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro