It’s true that corporates started discussing the concept back in 2007 when business executives began demanding access to corporate resources on their shiny new iPhones. But Forrester’s right in that it’s only now that large numbers of organisations are starting to implement BYOD initiatives. This increase is largely driven by the rise of cloud apps we can access on our mobile devices, and the influence they’re having on the way we work.
The appeal of BYOD is obvious. Allowing employees to access their data on personal devices, from any location at any time, provides a number of benefits; they have greater flexibility and are able to work more efficiently, as well as gleaning more satisfaction from their jobs. On the flipside – and the concern that’s held many businesses back – is the numerous security issues it raises as employees demand access to sensitive corporate data on unmanaged and potentially unsecured devices.
In the early days of BYOD, (what we describe at F5 as BYOD 1.0), organisations tried to solve BYOD security issues in the workplace by managing employees’ devices as a whole (MDM: Mobile Device Management). But MDM is not without its drawbacks. Employees don’t like giving their companies control over their devices as they often contain personal applications and information. If an exec decides to leave a company, wiping her mobile may mean losing all enterprise data along with photos of her family. IT departments don’t like this scenario either; having to manage an employee’s entire device means their personal traffic becomes an IT problem.
In addition, not all employees are security-savvy so aren’t necessarily very good at taking the necessary measures to protect their devices which could leave sensitive data vulnerable to attack. If the IT department needs to make any upgrades to an employee’s smartphone, they would also have access to his or her personal data, including phone numbers, family photos and social calendars.
As we enter BYOD 2.0, which Forrester indicates is the true beginning of the mobile working revolution, these issues are finally being addressed. MDM is over and Mobile Application Management (MAM) is set to take its place. The enterprise footprint on a personally owned device is now limited to the enterprise data and applications and nothing more. Device level Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are now being replaced by application-specific VPNs, meaning that security measures like encryption can be implemented on individual applications, such as Microsoft Exchange, ensuring that employees’ work emails are secure but that they won’t get locked out of other applications if they forget their email encryption password.
By combining mobile management functionality and access functionality into a simple offering, enterprises achieve a mobile IT solution that extends from data and applications on the endpoint into the cloud and datacentre. Different types of environments will require different levels of access control but this will not be to the detriment of the end user; phase two of BYOD means data is more secure but is as fast and available as before to provide an enhanced user experience.
Executives have been quick to embrace the BYOD trend and now that their concerns over enterprise management of their personal data should be a thing of the past, it’ll be interesting to see just how far the trend goes.
Joakim Sundberg, F5 Security Solution Architect