mobile-apps
Mobile Applications

Keeping Enterprise Data Secure at the App Level

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a trend that shows no sign of slowing. That means it’s vital for businesses to ensure that these devices, as well as the network they run on, are secure. As any IT security manager would tell you, the risk of data loss, network intrusion or breaches increases with every end-point added to the network. So with every member of staff bringing extra gadgets, there are potentially many times more user end-points than we had even only four or five years ago.

The benefits of letting employees bring their own devices to work are clear and well documented, about 60% of us do already (Ovum, November 2012) and Intel recently reported that its BYOD programme has saved it around 57 minutes in productivity per employee every day – adding up to an astonishing 5 million hours across the business over the course of a year.

Workers have often reported that they are happier working longer hours with BYOD, possibly because their device is one they are happy to use and they can do tasks like managing emails in their own time. Workers are also able to do non-work tasks on the same device, making their lives easier.

That last point, however, is the down side from an IT department’s point of view. Allowing devices that are not fully controlled by IT to connect to the corporate network opens the business up to all sorts of potential issues from a security standpoint as well as potentially flooding corporate networks with non-business traffic, which could affect network access for other employees trying to make use of network resources to get on with their jobs.

Many BYOD policies have focused heavily on mobile device management (MDM), creating a VPN for the device and securing the connection to the corporate network. That’s not an ideal situation for IT or employees. This approach means IT must go to the trouble of dealing with personal applications and traffic, while staff face the prospect of losing all their personal data if the company needs to wipe the device, for example when leaving their job for a new one. There is no discrimination between corporate and private – absolutely everything is removed.

If, on the other hand, an approach which looks to secure devices at the application level is adopted it is much more convenient for all involved: the IT department is then in charge of which business apps are downloaded and can deal with updating and with removing all trace of sensitive data if the worker leaves the organisation – without so much as touching the personal applications and data on the device.

Mobile application management allows a business to encourage staff to bring their own devices as they please and ensures that they are all compliant with IT guidelines and policies. This helps the IT department know that all connected devices are as secure as can be, while users are at liberty to use whatever apps they please on their own devices without worrying that they will be clamped down on as security risks by over-zealous security managers.

By making it easy to deploy and easy to use, mobile application management becomes a much more effective approach than locking down personal devices according to corporate needs.

 

Nathan Pearce, Marketing Architecture - Cloud/SDN, F5 Networks

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Nathan Pearce

Nathan Pearce, Marketing Architecture - Cloud/SDN, F5 Networks

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