Allowing, family friend, and employees to use their personal mobile devices for work can provide a multitude of advantages: productivity, simpler connectivity, access to the resources they need from virtually anywhere. But along with the benefits, bring your own device (BYOD) opens the door to risks, including security vulnerabilities, data leakage, compliance and potential liability issues.The magnitude of the problem is big, considering millions of these devices are lost, stolen or misplaced every year (120 thousand phones were lost in Chicago taxi cabs alone last year…).
When presented with these challenges, most of the time IT groups automatically start thinking about Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions. And they are right. MDM products monitor, secure manage and support all those mobile devices across the enterprise and do it well. What IT managers sometimes fail to realize is that they may already have at hand tools and procedures that can be implemented very quickly and minimize or at least alleviate some of those problems.
One such simple thing is: lock the device with a PIN, password, pattern!
That’s always a good idea. Users may have secure tokens and password encrypted information on the phone, but keeping others from even getting that far is easy to do and increases the overall security by an order of magnitude. And there is nothing needed in terms of infrastructure for this to be implemented. Just defining the policy and communicating it to users will do. Different devices (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows) may require different steps, but in all cases, it just takes two or three minutes to apply a PIN and screen lock to any device. There is no reason not to do this.
Of course, a big improvement to this would be to enforce or to make that policy mandatory. The good news is that companies frequently run applications that include capabilities to “force” users to lock the device, and sometimes even a lot more. Many existing applications, such as MS Exchange ActiveSync, Google Apps Management and even some certificate management systems, for instance, may be sufficient for enforcing these policies.
Then, as we were discussing earlier, if you need more control over devices, secure specific applications, access to resources, plus the ability to have visibility on BYOD use, an MDM system may be the way to.