Service providers dive into BYOD threats

by Ashwani Mishra    Nov 14, 2011

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon and the consumerization of IT are becoming game changers, and also offer opportunity in the mobile enterprise space. Enterprise users are clear on what technologies they want to use in which places and how.

As a result of these two trends, IT is facing an onslaught of requests to allow network and application access for their personal smartphones and tablets.

“BYOD trend creates real opportunity for employees to become more productive, but it also carries risk unless it is managed properly,” says Marisa Viveros, Vice President, IBM Security Services.

According to a survey released by ISACA earlier this month, more than half of IT professionals in India (56 percent) believe that the risks resulting from employees’ use of personal mobile devices for work activities currently outweighs the benefits.

ISACA is a nonprofit association of 95,000 members that focuses on information assurance and security.

“Between lost productivity, the dangers of unsecured networks and the potential to lose or misplace mobile devices pose many risks that must be managed to obtain their substantial benefits,” says Niraj Kapasi, IT auditor and chair of ISACA’s India Task Force.

Yet, since more than a third of enterprises allow personal devices to be used for work, global IT association ISACA urges enterprises to embrace the technology and the benefits it brings, while educating employees on the potential risk.

IBM has introduced a service to help enterprises ensure that the numerous devices that users bring to work, from smartphones to tablets, are secure and protected from threats like malware and data theft.

The new IBM Hosted Mobile Device Security Management service extends the company’s existing mobility portfolio to include a security application for smartphones and tablets, along with managed services including policy management and user compliance monitoring.

“This service will help organizations protect their enterprise data while allowing employees to have the flexibility needed for today’s work environment,” says Viveros.

The service aims to protect enterprise users against data loss and other risks caused by device theft, unauthorized access, malware, spyware, and inappropriate applications.

The company is working with Juniper Networks on this mobile security service for underlying protection and device management technology. It will work for any device that runs Apple iOS, Symbian, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry OS, or Microsoft Windows Mobile or Windows Phone operating systems.

A recent Forrester Research study estimated that the market size for mobile device management will grow from the current $3.9 billion to $6.6 billion in 2015.

Gartner expects several new mobile management styles to include -

Control-oriented - To assure functionality, service levels, performance and security, the organization provides and strictly manages devices, contracts and applications.

Choice-oriented - The primary goal is user satisfaction, typically in cases where users demand a greater choice of devices, but have lesser application and service needs.

Innovation-oriented - The goal is to empower users who want substantial autonomy and are often in roles over which IT has little or no control.

Hands-off - The goal is to take the minimum level of responsibility for mobile devices and services, by not providing them. It includes concepts such as employee-owned devices and BYO IT.

“CIOs must be ready for the BYO programs sooner than they realize,” says Nick Jones, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “BYO is a principle that most organizations will adopt and organizations must prepare for this change.”

Secure mobile device management firm Zenprise also introduced its BYOD Tool Kit this month that provides IT managers with tips and resources to safeguard their enterprise while allowing employees to use their device of choice.

“Many companies fear BYOD, but we believe it is a great opportunity for enterprises to mobilize their business,” says Ahmed Datoo, Zenprise CMO.