What to Consider When Address BYOD Security and Management

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  July 29, 2013

Clearly, the bring-your-own-device workplace trend is here to stay. As a result, more companies are moving to formulate BYOD strategies so they can get a handle on what’s happening with this growing sea of devices as they relate to corporate networks and business data.

Aragon Research Inc. in a research note released earlier this year talks about the need for a holistic approach to BYD management and writes: “Enterprise device, application and infrastructure management tools are rapidly evolving to help manage different aspects of the new mobile, bring-your-own enterprise. In the near term, businesses will face a fragmented market that includes public and private app stores along with MDM, MAM and emerging EMM vendors. Each of them is valuable for certain business needs and circumstances, but the coming consolidation in this market will have important consequences, and should be reflected in relatively short-term planning.”

Michael Markulec, CTO of Lumeta, a Bell Labs (News - Alert) spinoff that provides enterprise network discovery and security software to large global companies, says the first step in addressing BYOD is to know what devices ­– wireless and wireline – are connected to the corporate network. The challenge with wireless, he notes, is those devices are not there for long.

If you’re going to allow a device to join the network, he continues, that device has to have an agent, which is a small piece of software on the device so you can monitor and secure it, says Markulec, who notes that Lumeta has been working with the Trusted Computing Group (News - Alert) on network access control.

He adds that we can expect to see a growing incidence of split-purpose machines, which when on the corporate network only have certain applications and functionality enabled. These “split-personality” wireless devices, as Markulec calls them, have already seen a fair amount of uptake in the government and medical arenas. But most of the wireless devices of that nature today rely on custom software, he adds, noting that now suppliers are coming out with prepackaged solutions to transform BYOD devices into split-personality units.

Doug Louie, senior director of product marketing for enterprise at Smith Micro (News - Alert), a 30-year-old public company that has been in the device management space for more than a decade, says that connection management is a key part of the mobility management picture. By setting policy, organizations can define what devices can connect and to what on the corporate network, Louie explains.

Smith Micro has built geofencing into its solution so that organizations can see when a user is inside or outside certain physical parameters. That way, if the organization requires, it can set policy so that the wireless device is locked down when it’s off premises. This capability is important for organizations for which security is a key consideration.

He adds that Smith Micro’s mobility management solution also maintains session persistence so users don’t have to relogin to sessions if connection goes down; that, he says, can be a very important features for such users as police departments, in which connectivity may play a role in life-and-death situations.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi