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BYOD: Secure data, not devices

Thor Olavsrud | July 23, 2012
A growing number of secure mobile solution providers say the answer to BYOD is not to control the device, but to control the data.

When it comes to things that keep CIOs up at night, mobility -- particularly bring your own device (BYOD) -- is at the top of the list or near it.

Mobile device management (MDM) products and services are often the reflexive response to the need for more secure mobile computing, but in many ways that's like using a chainsaw rather than a scalpel to perform surgery. A growing number of secure mobile solution providers say the answer to BYOD is not to control the device, but to control the data.

"It's appropriate to manage the device if you own that device," said Alan Murray, senior vice president of products at Apperian, a provider of a cloud-based mobile application management (MAM) solution. "If the corporation owns the device, it should manage that device. When is it valid to manage the application? Always."

Data Loss Fears
Smartphones are now in the hands of hundreds of millions of employees around the world, and other mobile devices like tablets are a growing phenomenon as well. This influx of consumer-owned devices into the enterprise environment has sparked data loss fears within many IT organisations. And if you think it's not happening in your company, think again.

"Even if you don't think you're doing BYOD, you're doing BYOD," Murray said. "It's a matter of whether you're doing it formally or like an ostrich."

For the most part, organisations are adjusting to the new reality. According to the State of Mobility Survey 2012 by Symantec, 59 percent of the 6,275 respondents reported that their organisations are making line-of-business applications accessible from mobile devices, and 71 percent said their organisation is looking at implementing a corporate "store" for mobile applications.

It's not hard to see why. Organisations believe embracing mobile computing increases the efficiency and effectiveness of their workforces. Symantec's survey found that 73 percent of respondents expected to increase efficiency through mobile computing, and all of them did realise that increased efficiency.

"Four or five years ago, it was all about the mobile elite," said John Herrema, senior vice president of corporate strategy for Good Technology, provider of secure mobile solutions. "They had company-owned devices to do some pretty basic things around email, browsers and PIM. Apps never really took off on that platform for a variety of reasons. But what we're seeing now is these BYOD devices have a ton of corporate use."

Several different strategies are emerging to help organisations control their data in a mobile environment. One of the more popular strategies is MAM, often associated with the creation of curated enterprise app stores. The idea behind MAM is to focus enterprise resources on managing what's really important to the business-its data-by taking charge of the apps that can access that data while leaving employees in control of the devices they own.


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