Very few people would argue that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is graduating into a full-fledged corporate phenomenon as the use of tablets and smartphones has become more widespread among enterprise employees. And there's no denying the arrival of these devices and the development of a variety of corresponding productivity applications could provide substantial benefits to the enterprise.
But many mobile devices are employee-owned and the trend will only increase. Market research firm Gartner predicts that as many as 50 percent of employers will require workers to use their own devices for work by 2017. This is bound to present difficulties as demand grows from users and organizations to exploit the power of their devices to access and interact with content.
Proper procedures can safeguard and secure content.
But, without an appropriate strategy that enables access, syncing and sharing of content in a secure and safe fashion, organizations are at risk from data leakage if users email files to themselves, use unauthorized third-party apps to edit documents and other files, or rely on consumer-grade solutions, like Dropbox, to sync files across devices and share them with others.
The good news is that it is possible to securely and safely manage the security risks posed by BYOD while enabling employees to get the job done anywhere, anytime and from any device. Proper procedures established by the IT department can safeguard and secure content, help to foster happy employees, increase productivity and lead to streamlined, managed workflows.
Comprehensive access, sync and share solutions are available that balance the employee's need for consumer-grade simplicity with enterprise-grade control, security and management for the employer. When evaluating such solutions, organizations should consider a number of features, such as on-premise deployment for the greatest amount of control and security without sacrificing user flexibility and Active Directory integration to ensure seamless authentication, provisioning and management.
Other factors to look at are policy setting (to create security policies for content, users and devices), encryption (to protect data in transit and on the device), remote wipe (to protect corporate data if a device is lost or stolen) and audit logs (to see what users are doing, the documents they access and who they share them with). The provision of ‘in-app' Office document editing and PDF annotation within the secure sandbox also eliminates data leakage and improves user productivity.
As with most technological advancements, once the use of personal devices within workplaces achieves a critical mass, it will be harder for employers to impose their desired level of control upon BYOD without being swept aside. Far better that they take steps now to ensure they have the security, access and management policies and strategies in place to accommodate BYOD when it becomes established and adopted into the mainstream.
Strategies need to balance the needs of users with the enterprise's desire to stay in control and address security, management, compliance and visibility. Organizations should evaluate solutions to ensure they support the integration of diverse computing platforms and devices into their existing, complex enterprise environment.
Emerging access, sync and share solutions are available that can give organizations the peace of mind to enable BYOD securely and safely for their employees while reassuring users they will not cause security breaches by using personal devices in their working environment. Organizations and users can rest assured that just like the smartphones and tablets they increasingly rely on, secure BYOD is within their grasp.
Anders Lofgren is VP of product management at Acronis Access.