Mobile device management is a must-have – even for SMEs

Employees are bringing smartphones, tablets and other devices to work that are easier to carry around (and much easier to lose).

April 11, 2013

By Niven Perumal, Product Manager Vox Telecom

The discussion around mobile device management has been going on for a number of years. Employees are bringing smartphones, tablets and other devices to work that are easier to carry around (and much easier to lose). Moreover, these devices are being increasingly used to access sensitive company information. It is clear that companies need to act fast and take control of the information that is leaving their premises in their employees’ pockets.

Another issue that has become clear is that small- and medium enterprises seem less concerned than large corporates about the number of mobile devices entering and exiting their company on a daily basis. Mobile device governance is something that every business owner should be aware of. I can compare it to a phone bill – if you only have a few lines, you can easily spot when your employees are abusing the system and put stricter measures in place. When you have 50 or a 100 phone lines, it becomes impossible to monitor each bill.
As a general rule – as soon as you notice employees accessing your network using their personal devices, you need to take action.

After all, smartphones, tablets and laptops are easily lost or stolen – and with it, sensitive data relating to pricing, corporate strategies and financial information is placed in the hands of someone else. Employees may also leave the company to work for a competitor, and take sales leads and supplier information with them.

But, rather than attempting to exclude mobile and personal devices from your IT strategy, approach the issue the same way as you would your regular IT governance.

Start by analysing the number of devices accessing company information. Review your firewall and Wi-Fi stats and see how much data is being transferred up and down these devices, how often they are active on your network and what corporate information might be stored on devices. Then you can start implementing solutions to not only secure the information on these devices, but also allow for integration so that employees can use their devices productively – without putting the company at risk. We’re already seeing global leaders like MobileIron enter the market and seamlessly remove the security and integration headaches, whilst also allowing for the development and deployment of mobile applications that can be used across all operating systems.

Employees can maintain their privacy, without compromising the security of the sensitive data on their devices. Mobile device management technology will enable you to segregate enterprise and personal data – this could mean, for example, that users will have to type in a password to access corporate data, but can access personal data (such as photos/videos) without authentication. It will also allow companies to remotely wipe lost data should the smart device in question be lost or stolen, and to prevent employees from using corporate bandwidth to download personal items such as music or online games.

No matter how large or small your company is, make sure that are always cognisant of how much information is travelling between your network and your employees’ mobile devices. If these devices should fall into the wrong hands, it could have serious consequences.