From The Editor | November 19, 2008

'Tis Mobile Security Season

Security concerns are still one of the biggest barriers to enterprise mobile device adoption, but you can address these concerns by putting sound policies in place.

Integrated Solutions, December 2008

As we enter into the holiday season, many of your employees may hope to receive a new iPhone 3G or BlackBerry Storm as a gift. However, if you're responsible for the mobile device initiatives of your business, you may hope these employees receive a lump of coal instead.

The consumer popularity of Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry has created a breed of employees determined to integrate their personal mobile devices with key enterprise applications. Even if your organization issues mobile devices to its employees for strict business use in field service, route delivery, or even white collar applications, it appears this gesture isn't good enough for many of today's mobile workers. A large number of people still want to integrate key business applications, such as their email accounts, onto their personal devices so they don't have to manage two separate devices when they are 'off the clock.'

IT managers are understandably reluctant to oblige these requests due to the security risks this move poses to key corporate data. In fact, in a recent survey by Datamonitor, 467 IT managers rated security as the number one barrier to the adoption of mobile solutions in the enterprise. However, IT managers who hope to simply ban the use of business applications on personal mobile devices will be fighting a losing battle. A technology-savvy mobile professional may be knowledgeable enough (and sneaky enough) to embed key business applications on their personal mobile devices themselves, without your knowledge. This practice would put your organization's data in an uncontrolled state of vulnerability. Rather than ban the use of personal devices outright, you may consider supporting a limited selection of these products, while developing a mobile device management policy to gain greater control of the business data that resides on the units.

Establish A Mobile Device Management Policy
Regardless of the device, IT managers need to ensure they have a clear policy on mobile device management, as well as the basic security capabilities to lock devices remotely, wipe them back to their factory settings, and block certain applications from being loaded. Employees must also be made aware that it is important to report lost or stolen devices immediately, and they should not use their personal mobile device to transfer sensitive company data.

If you are having difficulty establishing these policies and capabilities internally, you may want to enlist outside support. Select carriers have started offering hosted mobile device management solutions that can help you with this burden. This means that if an employee loses their mobile device, they can call an operator at the hosted device management solution provider and have the device locked or wiped remotely. At the same time, this provider can manage application blocks and device updates.

More Info For more detailed steps on how you can ensure mobile device security, click here.

As more enterprises look to expand their mobile workforces and equip their employees with mobile devices, the issue of device management becomes increasingly important. In fact, with mobile device spending expected to increase from $6 billion today to an estimated $17 billion in 2012, you may want to focus on developing a solution to this problem sooner rather than later.