5 strategies for the post-holiday BYOD wave

Employees' new mobile devices could cause the age-old security-versus-productivity debate to resurface

Christmas is over. Now, and after the office is back to normal after the first of the year, employees are going to return with several shiny new gadgets, along with the expectation that they'll "just work" in the corporate environment. Security will be a distant afterthought, because it's still viewed as a process that hinders productivity.

The back and forth between security helping or hurting productivity is a battle that has existed before the mobile device boom, and it will exist long after the next big technological thing arrives. But the fact remains security is an essential aspect to operations.

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Analysts from Frost & Sullivan have estimated that mobile endpoint protection market will reach $1 billion in earned revenue by 2017, a rather large number given that last year the market was worth about $430 million. The reason for the large projection is simple: Mobile is the new endpoint, and everyone has one.

Laptops, tablets, and smartphones enable employees to work anywhere, at anytime, so organizations have had to adapt to protect them and the sensitive data they access. However, Frost & Sullivan believe that businesses severely underestimate the risk presented by mobile devices.

CSO recently spoke to Jonathan Dale, the director of marketing at Fiberlink, a mobile management and security firm recently acquired by IBM. He offered some suggestions for IT and security teams that are gearing up to deal with the influx of new devices that'll soon appear on the network.

1. Educate

It's going to happen. According to the Consumer Electronics Association, tablets, laptops, and smartphones were the top gifts this holiday season for adults. Those gifts will show up on the network the moment that employees return from holiday break. So it makes sense to remind employees of corporate policies and rules that govern mobile device and their usage as it relates to work.

If the company has a mobile management product in place, Dale said, make sure to send employees enrollment instructions before they leave for the holidays and after they return.

"It doesn't matter if it's a new Kindle or one of the latest tablets from Samsung or Apple. The business side of getting a new device starts with enrollment. Make sure it's clear that the link is for all new devices employees plan to use to access to corporate resources," he said.

2. Do a policy check

Now would be a good time to ensure that personal device usage policies, as well as policies governing devices issued by the business, are not only current, but also meet the organization's security needs.

"Are you protecting the important stuff properly? Are your passcode policies applied properly? Are you forcing encryption on Android devices that support it and blocking the ones that dont? Ensure the policies are where they should be," Dale said.

3. FAQ the basics

Again, you can't stop it: Personal devices will arrive after the holidays. Make things easier on the help desk, and when the policy reminders are sent, include the steps needed to enable Wi-Fi for iOS and Android, and basics like the SSID information or help on connecting automatically.

This, in theory, will cut down on the number of help desk requests related to making things "just work."

4. Prep supported apps

"What better way to welcome the arrival of a new device than with a supported list of apps. Once an employee enrolls a device, and IT can automatically push them all the corporate apps they need. To wow employees even further, place a set of games and public apps in their supported app store," Dale said.

5. Privacy

Finally, make sure that when the policy reminders go out, employees are clear on what parts of the device the company will have access to and what can be done with that access.

"Privacy is a major part of a successful BYOD program. There are several options so, know what abilities you as IT have and figure out what works best for your company culture or CEO," Dale added.

This story, "5 strategies for the post-holiday BYOD wave" was originally published by CSO .

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