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BYOD Policies – More than an IT Issue | Part 2: Device Choice

BYOD policies must span the entire organization but serve two purposes

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device has moved from trend to an permanent fixture in today’s corporate IT infrastructure. It is not strictly an IT issue however. Many groups within an organization need to be involved as they grapple with the risk of mixing personal devices with sensitive information.  In my opinion, BYOD follows the classic Freedom vs. Control dilemma. The freedom for user to choose and use their desired device of choice verses an organization’s responsibility to protect and control access to sensitive resources. While not having all the answers, this mini-series tries to ask many the questions that any organization needs to answer before embarking on a BYOD journey.

Enterprises should plan for rather than inherit BYOD. BYOD policies must span the entire organization but serve two purposes – IT and the employees. The policy must serve IT to secure the corporate data and minimize the cost of implementation and enforcement. At the same time, the policy must serve the employees to preserve the native user experience, keep pace with innovation and respect the user’s privacy.  A sustainable policy should include a clear BOYD plan to employees including standards on the acceptable types and mobile operating systems along with a support policy showing the process of how the device is managed and operated.

Some key policy issue areas include: Liability, Device choice, Economics, User Experience & Privacy and a trust Model.  Today we look at Device Choice.

Device Choice
People have become very attached to their mobile devices. They customize and personalize and it’s always with them, to the point of even falling asleep with the device. So ultimately, personal preference or the ‘consumerization of IT’ notion is one of the primary drivers for BYOD. Organizations need to understand, what devices employees prefer and what devices do employees already own. That would could dictate what types of devices might request access. Once organizations get a grasp on potential devices, they then need to understand each device’s security posture.

About 10 years ago, RIM was the first technology that really brought the Smartphone into the workplace. It was designed to address the enterprise’s needs and for years was the Gold Standard for Enterprise Mobility. Management control was integrated with the device; client certificate authentication was supported; Active Directory/LDAP servers were not exposed to the external internet; the provisioning was simple and secure; organizations could manage both Internet access and intranet access, and IT had end point control.

When Apple’s iPhone first hit the market, it was purely a consumer device for personal use and was not business centric, like the BlackBerry. Initially, the iPhone did not have many of the features necessary to be part of the corporate environment. It was not a business capable device. It did not support applications like Exchange, which is deployed in many organizations and is critical to a user’s day-to-day activities. Over time, the iPhone has become a truly business capable device with additional mechanisms to protect end users.  Android, very popular with consumers, also offers numerous business apps but is susceptible to malware.

Device selection is also critical to the end user experience. Surveys show that workers are actually more productive when they can use their personal smartphone for work. Productivity increases since we prefer to use our own device. In addition, since many people like to have their device with them all the time, many will answer emails or do work during non-work hours. A recent survey indicated that 80% of Americans work an extra 30 hours a month on their own time with BYOD. But we are much happier.

A few blogs ago, I wrote about Good Technology’s BYOD survey, found that organizations are jumping on the phenomenon since they see real ROI from encouraging BYOD.  The ability to keep employees connected (to information) day and night can ultimately lead to increased productivity and better customer service.  They also found that two of the most highly regulated industries – financial services and health care – are most likely to support BYOD.  This shows that the security issues IT folks often raise as objections are manageable and there’s major value in supporting BYOD.  Another ROI discovered through the survey is that since employees are using their own devices, half of Good’s customers don’t pay anything for the employees’ BYOD devices – essentially, according to Good, getting employees to pay for the productivity boost at work.

As part of the BYOD Policy the Device Choice Checklist, while not inclusive, should:

· Survey employees about their preferences and current devices

· Define a baseline of acceptable security and supportability features

· Do homework: Read up on hardware, OS, and regional variances

· Develop a certification program for future devices

· Work with Human Resources on clear communication to employees about which devices are allowed–or not–and why

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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter Silva covers security for F5’s Technical Marketing Team. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Bringing the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together, he covers training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5’s security line. He's also produced over 200 F5 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. Prior to joining F5, he was the Business Development Manager with Pacific Wireless Communications. He’s also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others. He earned his B.S. from Marquette University, and is a certified instructor in the Wisconsin System of Vocational, Technical & Adult Education.

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