6 best practices for managing BYOD technology
The mobile workforce population is expected to surpass 105 million by 2020, according to IDC. Keeping all those workers and devices from causing security risks is becoming increasingly difficult. Here are six tips on how to best manage it all.
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BYOD puts new pressures on IT
“While the mobile workforce can accelerate productivity and flexibility, BYOD puts pressure on IT teams to juggle network availability while supporting an ever-growing array of device types, operating systems, software applications and security capabilities,” says Richard Allen, vice president of security solutions at Ipswitch. “Not only does BYOD affect network availability, it also creates a jarring security gap that could lead to data loss or breaches from lost, stolen or hacked devices.”
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An ounce of prevention
“Ignorance isn’t bliss with BYOD,” Allen stresses. “If your organization fails to put a BYOD strategy in place for managing mobile devices, including educating the workforce, employees will carelessly use rogue devices on the network, endangering your organization’s data. Make the upfront investment to have an honest conversation about how the use of technology is shifting in your organization. If IT teams can work together with their users, BYOD can be a win-win.”
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Track everything on your network
“Can you track and store who accessed your networks, when, where and with what devices, via wireless?” Allen asks. “Having access to this info in real-time and over the years is both crucial for compliance and security, and instantaneous detection of unusual BYOD activity. By constantly monitoring your network, you’ll be able to ascertain more quickly who is up to no good. Rogue devices may be unknown to the network, but they aren’t always a threat. With constant fires to put out, having the ability to exclude rogue yet harmless devices can streamline detecting and shutting down a threat, and that saves your valuable time.”
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Pinpoint bandwidth hogs
“As desks become cluttered with more smart phones and tablets, BYOD places new and growing demands on your infrastructure and increases the challenge of maintaining uptime, performance and service levels,” Allen explains. “Balancing the bandwidth needs of business-critical apps with the influx of consumer devices connecting to the network like smartphones, wearable technology, laptops and tablets, can be a challenge—leading to slow networks and a flurry of calls to the help desk. Prevent this by pinpointing bandwidth hogs with proactive monitoring of network bandwidth.”
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Spend resources on awareness
“While highlighting that user awareness is essential for effective BYOD management may sound redundant, many organizations across the board underestimate its importance,” Allen says. “Regardless of how many policies and security defenses IT mandates, bad actors will eventually find a way to breach your company if employees are reckless with mobile devices. Take time to consider the following questions:

* Do your employees store and send sensitive data on their smartphones and tablets?

* Are you confident that every corporate employee with a mobile device has acceptable remote-wipe and password protection?

* Do all of your employees understand the risks associated with Wi-Fi hot spots and malware?”
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Don’t forget about departing employees
“Departing employees and the personal devices they use for work pose a serious security threat,” Allen says. “After an employee termination, there are many steps your IT team should take, keeping in mind that the proper course of action will depend upon the employee’s access to data, organizational role and, generally, a mature risk assessment framework. As soon as an employee relationship is terminated, take steps to remotely wipe access to any organizational data or applications on their personal devices to purge all sensitive organization data and make sure your data stays within the network.”
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BYOD risks can be subtle, but very serious
“Long gone are the days where IT teams only had to worry about employees bringing work home on company laptops and logging in remotely,” Allen notes. “While BYOD risks are often subtler, they pose a serious risk to your organization by opening up a security gap and clogging up your network, potentially hindering business-critical activity. Prevent BYOD from causing chaos at your organization by tracking everything on your network, pinpointing bandwidth hogs, taking proper steps with departing employees and spending resources on awareness. Most importantly, work with your users to ensure that BYOD is a win for everyone. After all, you’re all on the same team.”