One of the biggest trends in business technology is the move towards greater mobility. Mike Worby, examines how to keep mobile devices secure in your company:
In business, there was a time when everyone was handed a desktop PC, which was replaced every few years. But that's now changing in a big way.
Many employees are using their own devices for work. Management teams are more inclined to want to display results on their iPad.
It means there could be a vast variety of devices being used in your business. This sea of gadgets makes it harder to keep data secure. Your users want a free-for-all IT policy so they work without restrictions, but a locked-down environment is much safer for your business.
Different systems, bigger overheads
To complicate things further, different mobile devices run different operating systems. The Android and iOS platforms, for example, each have their own challenges, which means you have to put extra effort into maintaining security.
For many companies, the solution to this conundrum is to consider some form of mobile device management (MDM) software.
This helps you manage and secure all the mobile devices in your business. The best systems work across multiple types of device, enabling you to change settings and access levels from a central control panel.
Even if your staff use their own mobile devices to access company resources, MDM software gives you control over the business side of things. For instance, you can wipe all company data from an employee’s phone if it is lost, stolen or they leave.
Where does mobility add value?
When considering how to keep mobile devices secure, focus first on those business tasks that require mobility. For instance, it might be vital that your sales team can access customer details from smartphones when they make client visits.
Prioritise these areas and aim to keep things easy for your users. For them, convenience trumps security every time, so you have to make sure that systems are safe and that it’s easy for users to keep them that way.
This is usually more effective than attempting to force change on what people perceive as a highly personal piece of technology - their own smartphone.
Evaluating where security is needed and then making it either simple or invisible to users is the only approach to take if you want to retain any control.
Using apps safely
Mobile apps probably already provide important mobile functions to your staff. If so, it may be wise to offer a form of private app store, from which users can download approved apps for use with company data.
Again, this needs to be as easy to use as the consumer app stores people are familiar with. If you don’t want them to keep company data in the software they have downloaded from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, you need to make your own apps every bit as easy to use.
Is MDM software for you?
MDM software can, in many circumstances, help you manage mobile security in all the areas covered by this article. And, with the bring your own device (BYOD) culture only growing in prominence, it’s clear that MDM software is now more vital than ever in order to make it quick and easy to get new users up and running safely.
Mobile device management is no longer a tool purely for large corporations. It’s therefore vital that SMEs consider this form of mobile security, although few would argue the importance of getting your mobile IT policy right from the start.