By Kevin MacArthur
Summer is now in full swing, with all of us packing the grills with burgers and hot dogs. Outdoor fire pits are roasting marshmallows and the beach is packed with folks who will regret only one application of SPF-10. What better time to discuss one of the most highly debated topics of 2012? Let’s talk about BYOD!
BYOD, or bring your own device, is talked about as much as the cloud in the IT world these days. And just about every company is doing it, with or without your knowledge.
Employee-owned mobile devices, like iPhones, iPads and Droids are as popular as desktops now and business owners everywhere are scratching their heads wondering how to manage all this. Notice how I left out BlackBerry? Sorry, RIM, your time has come and gone.
What does it mean to have company data on a personal mobile device? What security risks does the business owner endure with this technology? What if the employee leaves the company? All these are great questions, so let’s figure out the answers together.
We can start with an easy one. Most companies who allow BYOD entitle their employees to use their own smartphones or tablets to receive company emails. Seems harmless enough, until you realize the distinct possibility that the employee has some sort of confidential information included in his emails. I can guarantee your sales force has client information that very well could be used in a detrimental manner against your organization if that salesperson was to leave. Imagine if your head salesperson was to go to your competition and had a list of your best clients on his or her iPhone.
How about security, what if that phone is lost at the airport? What if the kids are playing Angry Birds while mom or dad are getting the bucket and shovels packed up from the beach and the phone gets left behind? It happens every day, and when it does your company data is in the hands of anyone who steals or finds the phone. What do you do?
Mobility Device Management or MDM software and solutions are coming out of the woodwork to address the needs of business owners everywhere who allow BYOD. With this technology, you not only have the ability to wipe clean a lost or stolen device, but you also have the ability to send alerts to the device. How cool would it be to have someone report a stolen iPad and with two clicks you wipe out the device and have a loud message blasted on the iPad saying, “This iPad was stolen from Logan Airport.” That would certainly be kind of embarrassing for the person who now has possession of it.
Say you lost a phone on the beach – seeing as there are some honest people out there, wouldn’t it be nice to look at a screen and find the phone using GPS tracking? You can pinpoint the exact address the phone is located at and, using a simple tool like Google Earth, find the address of the house the nice person lives at.
One last scenario is this: Odds are your CFO is going to leave at some point. And they, like many do, have their iPhone and iPad all set up with company information like email, spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. So what happens when they do leave? Do you have time to sit with them and go over everything they have on a device they bought with their own money? Do you really have time to look at all their personal stuff and decipher what is personal and what is business related? I am guessing not. So what do you do? MDM software has selective wipe options as well. Again, with just a couple clicks of the mouse, you can delete all company data and emails and preserve all the personal information on the device – saving you not only time and money but also ensuring that your company information is not going to be used against you.
In my opinion, this topic is just getting started. As the BYOD boom continues to grow, so will the technology. I can only imagine what is in store for the future of managing mobile devices. I am sure this is just the beginning.
Kevin MacArthur is owner of Secure Networks, a technology consulting firm in Hyannis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in Cape & Plymouth Business July 2012
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