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Do We Really Know BYOD?

July 19, 2013 No Comments

Featured article by Ian Marshall, Marketing Director, IceWarp

If you even loosely keep up with the news, you know that BYOD is far from a new term. What you might not know, however, is that the definition of BYOD changes almost daily.

What falls within the sphere of BYOD is always getting wider. More employees are using more devices to sync to more areas of their work life. The devices and types of information being transferred today don’t necessarily exclude those used six months ago, but rather encompass a wider spectrum. More devices with more features synchronized transferring more types of information during more hours of the day.

What does this mean in practical terms for a business? The constant growth of BYOD can present a major security issue. It’s great if your employees can have 80% of their resources synced on their device when only 50% was possible six months ago. What if they lose that device though? It’s ideal if 70% of your workplace’s data can be synched to a mobile device when only 40% was half a year ago. What if an unauthorized device connects to your network however?

The bigger the company, the more this matters. Here at IceWarp we have household name clients who, due to the large number of employees doing work on personal devices and the critical security level of the data being managed, demand that their comprehensive messaging system have very advanced options for personal devices brought into their network. This prevents unwanted data from being taken out of or put into their organization.

What used to only matter for billion dollar companies, however, now matters for everyone. One employee can have four different devices she connects to a company network, also synchronized with and transferring different types of information. Companies of all sizes now need a way to make sure that any information taken away from their network stays protected and anything transferred from a user device to the network doesn’t present a security threat.

Fortunately there has been a wave of recent developments making it easier for BYOD to work securely.

First, many BYOD administration tools no longer follow the either/or method of restricting access. Administrators are able to selectively determine which parts of a device connect to a business network or which parts of a device can be used while connected. With IceWarp’s version 11, set for release later in 2013, users will be able to restrict consumer email accounts like Gmail, Yahoo and others. They also can disable the built-in camera, Text Messaging, Wi-fi, and Removable Storage a connected device, unsigned Applications. Administrators can also force s/mime encryption.

What about when someone loses their personal device that has contains important company data? For several years BYOD tools have offered the ability to perform a “remote wipe” of the lost device. In the past this feature erased both personal and company data from a device. Now companies are increasingly able to choose what data is erased in a remote wipe. A device can be wiped and, if found, pictures of a daughters 7th birthday 2 weeks ago won’t be lost. IceWarp version 11 will notably incorporate this feature as well.

Another problem many businesses have run into with BYOD is being able to control which users can connect to a network by giving out licenses, but not which device a user can connect to the network. This used to not be an issue because of the limited number of devices on the market. Now it almost goes without saying however that someone on your sales staff will have perhaps a Blackberry, iPhone, and iPad he needs to connect for both work and personal use. New BYOD technologies are increasingly allowing administrators to authorize individual devices to connect to the company network. IceWarp version 11 will once again allow this customization.

It’s important to stress that these features have been a necessity for large corporations for a number of years now. Today’s custom system for a Fortune 500 company is tomorrow’s standard tool for a medium sized business. Even though BYOD is always changing, it’s by looking at the custom systems of the few that we can predict with a stunning degree of accuracy the future of the many.

Ian Marshall is the Marketing Director of IceWarp, a leading provider of messaging solutions. He has worked with B2B technology throughout his entire career in industries such as government planning, marketing automation, and mail servers. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech.

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