Rapid technology changes make securing BYOD difficult

It seems smartphones and tablets are here to stay, and securing BYOD protection for business networks may require some tough love.

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Modern Infrastructure: Modern Infrastructure: We’re mobile. Now what?:

As the parent of a high school freshman, I can empathize with IT professionals securing BYOD and trying to wrangle their end users in this era of consumerization. As parents, we spend all kinds of time and effort establishing boundaries and educating our children to be responsible, considerate members of society. But the minute they reach adolescence, they go off and do profoundly stupid stuff behind our backs.

It’s the same thing with end users and their smartphones and tablets. All the structure and due diligence that IT has put it place to make a safe, cost-effective and reliable working environment goes out the window faster than you can download a Dropbox app.

But just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can put a stop to it. Eventually, tighter rules and earlier curfews break down, and teenagers become adults. And end users, for better or for worse, are wielding their own smartphones and tablets, which aren’t going anywhere.

Trying to deny this new reality is not only pointless, it’s counterproductive.

The good news is that slowly but surely, IT is moving past denial, and is starting to come to terms with end-user mobility and more secure BYOD policies. In this issue’s cover story, “Take Control of Enterprise Mobility,” TechTarget news writer Jim Furbush finds that most IT shops have yet to fully embrace that mobility. Fewer than one-half of surveyed companies said they had a mobility strategy in place, even though they anticipate that more than two-thirds of employees will be using mobile devices as their primary platform within three years.

Honestly, I can’t say I blame those IT pros. It’s not like they didn’t already have enough to do without the added burden of rethinking security, WiFi infrastructure, application delivery, device ownership and support models, to name a few considerations.

And let’s just say that hypothetically, IT pros had the time and resources to take on a major new strategic initiative. Even then, there’s no guarantee that the efforts they put forth will have the desired effect. Things are moving so fast, there are so few examples to work from, and what works for one organization may not work for another. Actually, let me rephrase that -- what works for one organization will probably never work for another.

But even though it’s messy and complicated and expensive, mobility in the workplace falls squarely in the category of “good problem to have.” IT professionals are end users, too, and they benefit just as much as the next employee from the latest consumer technologies. We may talk about wanting to go back to a simpler time, but imagine the outcry if that actually happened. Like when your kids still needed help tying their shoes, crossing the street and pouring their own milk? Um, thanks, but no thanks.

This was first published in January 2013

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