BYOD Isn’t the Problem, Bring Your Own Software (BYOS) Is

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The ‘Bring Your Own’ (BYO) trend is a bit like the whack-a-mole game: No sooner do companies get one problem under control than another pops up. CompTIA, the non-profit IT industry trade association, finds more than 66 percent of companies have a BYOD (Device) policy in place. Now they’re turning their attention to another variant of BYO: BYOS (Software or Services), BYOA (Apps) and others. No matter the BYO, employees are increasingly using software they’re familiar with to do their work. It’s due to the consumerization of IT.

Do you feel like you’re playing Whack-A-Mole when it comes to BYOS? Image by hermansylvester via Flickr.

Storing Data Where They Want

For example, an IDG annual Consumerization’s Impact on the Enterprise (CITE) conference revealed during an informal survey about one-third of attendees admitted they use Box or Dropbox to store corporate data, in spite of having Sharepoint as the corporate file cabinet. None of the attendees said they’d informed their IT departments.

Now companies are turning their attention to Mobile Application Management (MAM) to address the security issues that arise when employees (with or without permission) insist on using their personal devices and favorite apps. As MAM evolves, various approaches are being implemented.

One Problem, Many Solutions

One common-sense approach to managing apps is for the company to build apps employees need to be productive. However, the development time and cost may be a constraint for smaller companies, especially when they begin to look beyond the app’s basic functionality to the need for industrial grade security. Companies like Antenna Software can help speed the development process with their AMPchroma product. It’s a development environment for mobile apps using HTML5 that essentially puts apps inside a “box” that’s managed through the Antenna’s APIs and runs on your company’s servers. Using a similar approach, Fixmo.com, Cellrox.com and Enterproid (found at Divide.com) each use techniques that separate personal apps from secure apps. Some of these even set up hypervisor-like services to run two operating systems within the device — one of which is managed and secure.

MDM solutions for Blackberry, a company well aware of the need for app management due to its longevity in business markets, include over 400 security and management policies (some for devices, some for apps) through its Blackberry Enterprise Service. BES can push secure apps to BYOD users from its app store so approved business apps are separated from the user’s personal apps. For companies that do not wish to deploy the entire BES solution, Blackberry also supports EAS (Exchange Active Sync), the de facto standard for syncing information securely between mobile devices and fixed assets.

Good.com takes yet another path to MAM. They give developers a way to embed security into any app, even if its source code is not available. This secures individual apps rather than the hardware device, yet still allows over-the-air policy updates, lock and wiping of app data and other management functions.

Build Your MAM Policy

If you’re at the stage of developing a MAM policy, begin with a review of your business needs. If you meet two initial goals, you’re off to a good start. First, aim to secure corporate data and avoid the messy job of having to find and erase data that’s been stored in personal clouds. Second, prevent the disclosure of employees’ personal data which could lead to privacy litigation.

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