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7 smart steps to make BYOD work more effectively

by Doug Drinkwater

September 24 2013

Your IT manager may not like it, but employees are bringing their iPhones, iPads, Android and Windows 8 tablets to work and that’s a problem when you’re looking to tighten data security. But don’t worry, here are seven steps to getting you on the road to supporting BYOD.

Appoint a BYOD manager

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is hard enough to keep on top of as it is, what with new devices coming and going in and out of the office all the time.

However, while you can’t manage that you can at least get yourself in the best possible position to stay on top of the on-goings at your firm by appointing a member of your IT department (or any division if you’re working in an SMB) to address all issues of BYOD – from policies and guidelines to determine which devices are allowed and in which divisions.

This person can also be expected to look after who pays to support these devices and their data support plans.

Implement policy

Mention the words ‘BYOD policy’ and there is a worry that this has to be some all-encompassing document that covers all the nooks and crannies of what users can and can’t do with their personally-owned gadgets.

That doesn’t have to be the case. If you haven’t got the time or resources to implement such a thing, you should simply concentrate on a policy which covers the basics.

This should cover which devices and apps are supported, what apps are blacklisted, determine that end users must agree to password protect their device with PINs and an auto-locking feature. It should also decree what data can and can’t be stored on devices, the remote wipe process if its stolen and how users should and shouldn’t back up data.

Of course you could always look at the policy you have for your corporate PCs and adapt accordingly. Alternatively, there are tools out there to help you draft your first BYOD policy, like the free Zenprise BYOD Policy Template from Citrix.

(Don't miss "BYOD & the Cloud - Managing apps and data on your employees' tablet," a key session at the TabletBiz conference & expo coming to New York on November 13, 2013). 

Blacklist and whitelist apps

Don’t have the time or expertise to go ahead with a BYOD policy? No sweat, here’s one short, fast and pretty effective way of letting employees know what they can and can’t do; block access to forbidden apps.

‘Blacklisting’ is essentially blocking access to unauthorized apps, which could be Facebook, Twitter or Dropbox among others. You can also ‘whitelist’ apps that employees can use.

Where possible, keep data off the device

It’s been something that we’ve reported frequently here at TabTimes and which has been stressed continually by security experts at our TabletStrategy and TabletBiz conferences – concentrate on managing the data rather than just the device.

You could employ virtualization products like container apps or use products like harmon.ie for SharePoint for getting at local SharePoint files. Either way, it’s a safer way than putting data on devices and with that risking data leakage.

Make your employees aware of the risks

It sounds obvious, but one clean-cut way of reducing the risks of BYOD is by telling your employees exactly how damaging it can be, especially if someone’s device is lost or stolen.

So it’s worthwhile reminding users to set-up PIN passwords and getting then to liaise with the IT department so that data can be wiped if need be.

The right apps for the right people

If you’re thinking of rolling out corporate or third-party apps to employees, it’s worth considering who will benefit from using the apps.

Think about which departments can gain as a result of using their own smartphones, tablets and laptops in the office with corporate apps, and deploy carefully. You don’t want to be a position where every man and woman in the office have access to apps they don’t need, because that represents a very real security risk.

Get ready for the next step

You may be taking your first steps with BYOD but you’ll need to look ahead if you want it to continue to be a cost-saver for business, and a time saver and productivity benefit for end-users.

With that in mind, perhaps it’s worth considering how virtualization could improve securing sensitive data, if corporate cloud accounts reduce the risk of data being taken with employees when they leave and if two-factor authentication could tighten security.

And lastly, if you’re enterprise or business is being flooded with apps – either third-party or your own internally developed ones – you might too want to consider launching your own enterprise app store to manage which apps are available.

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