From the archives: This originally appeared in Business Computing World.
Starting with the introduction of the iPad, there has been a deluge of tablets (mostly Android-based) that allow users far more functionality than simply email. Today, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies allowing users to access corporate data from personal devices, and cloud-based applications make employees more efficient and productive at work.
The consumerisation of IT trend is here to stay. Corporate IT must understand resulting data protection and security challenges in order to implement appropriate policies in coordination with the right tools to achieve a win-win situation.
As tablets, and smartphones become more powerful, and newer platforms come to market (such as Windows 8), corporate data is increasingly present on more and more devices. Without the right kind of software that works on multiple platforms and devices, IT has no visibility into this vast expanse of data, making it liable to the risk of violating compliance or corporate governance regulations.
Further, individual liable devices must be protected from data loss and data breach. The loss or theft of a BYOD device can lead to productivity losses if useful corporate data on the device is not backed up. In addition, data on the device is liable to potentially expensive breach if it falls in the wrong hands.
A solution providing backup capabilities for selected information along with data encryption and the ability to remotely wipe corporate data from a lost device would be ideal in this situation. A recent incident that highlights the importance of protecting important information on mobile devices is the theft of an unencrypted NASA laptop with information on 10,000 employees. The ability to selectively delete information on user-owned devices is particularly useful when employees quit their companies.
In addition to challenges from BYOD, the use of consumer-grade applications lacking adequate security is a major concern for IT. Dropbox’s security breach strongly illustrates the need for enterprise-grade applications that ensure data security while providing ease-of-use similar to consumer-grade solutions.
Corporate IT can ideally balance the productivity gains resulting from the consumerisation of IT while eliminating the possibility of data loss or breach by using a software solution that both protects data on BYOD devices and allows secure file sharing with enterprise-grade capabilities. In doing so, IT can realise the dual victory of satisfying users’ demand of instant data access while keeping sensitive data safe.