Who doesn’t like the idea of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) for business? Having employees use their own personal devices for work sounds like a great idea. For one thing, they’ll be more productive as they are already familiar with their devices. They’ll also be more satisfied with their work since they won’t have to struggle with learning how to operate a new smartphone or tablet. Plus, companies can save on costs since they won’t need to buy devices for their employees. So what’s the downside? For many business leaders, the chief concern no matter the BYOD policies enacted is that of security. With employees using their own devices, that opens up more avenues for vital company data to be compromised. That’s why so many businesses now are turning to mobile device management (MDM) systems as a way to address these pressing security issues.
Making sure data is protected has quickly turned into a lucrative market. In fact, estimates put the desktop and mobile security client market at around $7 billion by the year 2015. That should come as little surprise considering the fears many business leaders have concerning security threats. The main and most obvious fear is over lost or stolen data. Employees in charge of their own devices may not place as high a priority on protecting company data, which may lead to disastrous consequences if their device is lost. There are other security threats related to devices getting infected by malware. If an infected device were to connect to the company’s network, that infection may spread to other systems and devices connected in a similar fashion, putting more valuable data at risk. There’s also the increased possibility that employees may unwittingly download malicious apps, which can also spread if not checked and treated.
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With all these fears that are only growing more prevalent with time, MDM is the solution many companies are choosing to enhance security for BYOD policies. Whereas before, businesses would turn to corporate-owned devices to address these security concerns, MDM can give companies, and more specifically IT departments, greater control over the personal devices their employees use. Effective MDM systems directly address some of the biggest challenges that companies face when employing a BYOD program. Some of these challenges include dealing with a large variety of different types of devices, protecting company data, making sure devices are able to work together, enforcing security policies, enhancing cloud security, and adapting to the rapidly evolving tech industry. MDM services essentially simplify this complicated process by allowing IT personnel to access and manage devices through a single console.
This approach may help to tackle the security issues surrounding BYOD in various different ways. For example, in order to avoid malicious apps, MDM systems may include their own integrated app store with applications that have already been approved for use on personal devices intended for work. Another common MDM policy allows IT to remotely wipe a device. This would obviously only happen if an employee’s device was lost or stolen. In that unfortunate scenario, IT workers would be able to access the device remotely and then completely wipe it free of any data, eliminating the chance an outside party would be able to access it and steal the data. Effective MDM policies also should have some stringent guidelines regarding what happens when a device reaches the end of its life cycle. Companies need to clearly state what employees should do when they wish to dispose of their device. Too often they’ll get rid of a device that might still have data on it. By spelling out these disposal policies through their MDM systems, companies will be more certain sensitive information won’t end up in unwanted hands.
There are other features MDM systems can have that would enhance security for a business. Many systems showcase data encryption along with antivirus protection, effectively boosting the security features of individual devices. IT workers can even install special safeguards, like requiring strong passwords every time an employee accesses his or her device. These features individually are great ways to make devices safer, but when used in an organized combination, they’re able to work well together to identify and avoid security threats, keeping corporate data safe.
Many of these MDM policies may be seen as extremely restrictive by employees. That’s why companies need to not only communicate what the policies are but why they’re so needed. When workers understand the security risks that are out there, they’ll be more tolerant of these restrictions while using their personal devices. As businesses see the benefits of using MDM systems, everyone involved will get more used to what can and can’t be done with them, and company data will be better protected.