According to an IBM survey, more than 60 percent of organizations allow employee use of personal devices to access enterprise data. These BYOD-friendly organizations expect improved employee productivity and satisfaction as a result of allowing employees to use their own mobile devices to conduct company work.
But as the world becomes more mobile, we also face increased security threats. How can organizations leverage the positive effects of BYOD while mitigating the inherent security risks?
WashingtonExec recently spoke with Jeff Ward, Vice President, Federal at Fiberlink, an IBM company, about the procedural challenges facing organizations as they adjust to a mobile workforce.
“Technically speaking, BYOD is really not that hard to do, it’s getting the procedures and the legal policies in place so that users of personal devices are comfortable that they’re getting the right amount of enterprise management of their business information on their smart devices without sacrificing their personal information,” said Ward.
Fiberlink has extensive experience delivering enterprise mobility management and security solutions to organizations of all sizes. Through innovative products like MaaS360, Fiberlink helps customers accelerate deployment, reduce risk, increase employee productivity, and simplify mobile management for IT.
“We can decouple our MaaS360 Secure Productivity Suite, an encrypted container for work apps and data, from our MDM configuration profiles, which is significant in many ways,” said Ward. “It’s less expensive for the agencies, and it allows them to address a much broader set of use cases. While this may not be a big deal for an organization with 10, 20, or 50 personal device users, it is a huge issue for agencies with hundreds and even thousands of potential BYOD users.
We also help to eliminate any concern by the end user that we could wipe their personal information. In fact, in this scenario, all that could be wiped is the container with the business email, applications and content. That’s been of great significance to our customers, and we have quite a few federal customers that are leveraging our platform to enable the use of personal devices in a BYOD situation.”
These days, every organization is working to meet the needs of a mobile world, but the needs of government clients differ from those of commercial clients. We asked Ward to elaborate on the particular mobile needs of the government. “I think security is the obvious answer, but it is important that government doesn’t over-complicate security on mobile devices. ” he said. “If you want to enable mobility within the government, you don’t have to decrease security, but change the way you’re thinking about it.” Ward explained with the following example:
“The device manufacturers are enhancing security at the hardware and operating system levels and changing the security paradigm. It’s a different security model from what IT is used to on laptops and desktops, but arguably better in many ways.
I think that’s where government can embrace mobility—if they’re willing to not compromise on security, but just think about it from a different perspective.”
The enormous risks organizations expose themselves to when implementing a BYOD policy may seem daunting, but according to Ward, that does not have to be the case. We asked him to describe the number one thing enterprises can do if they are concerned about email and document sharing security.
“I think it’s about picking the right platform,” he said. “From a features standpoint, there are lots of people who can provide MDM services these days, and we’re all in the same boat in that we all have the same hooks from the OS and device manufacturers to secure the data. So, that’s the easy part.”
What sets the more trustworthy providers apart is that next step. “It’s tying the mobile services and technologies together and being experienced enough to adapt as mobile technology is changing so quickly,” said Ward. “That’s why we’re so excited to be part of IBM. We really have an organization that’s unmatched in its ability to stitch together various mobile solutions into an integrated, comprehensive platform that’s light on its feet, that can adapt to changes in the market and changes within the enterprise to accomplish mission objectives.”
For Fiberlink, the market is a pool of untapped potential, as organizations increasingly adopt mobile. “I think the regulated industries that we work with, including healthcare, retail, finance, and government, have the greatest potential,” said Ward.
“We’ve seen varying degrees of adoption to mobile technology, based on security concerns, etc. I think the biggest untapped market is the federal government because it’s been the most reluctant to jump into the pool.”
Personally, Ward is excited about what’s on the horizon for the evolving mobile industry and for his part in shaping it. “We’ve been helping organizations manage mobile laptops, then experiencing the emergence of mobile smart devices. It’s been exciting to be on the leading edge of snapping these amazing new devices into our SaaS platform and delivering day zero support quickly, easily and cost effectively to our customers without them having to worry about keeping up with the rapidly changing capabilities of Mobile IT. MaaS360 takes care of that for them,” he said. “We’re not trying to figure out how to build hardware appliances, but all of our competitors are trying to figure out how to provide Enterprise Mobility Management from a SaaS platform, so we feel really proud and confident that we bet on the right horse early and have a fairly significant lead.”