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Improving business productivity with mobile device support

Mobile device support and BYOD governance should go beyond triage to enable business productivity.

Enterprise mobility management software can help you enable safe use.

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For example, mobile device management (MDM) enrollment portals check redirected devices against minimum criteria; those that pass muster can immediately proceed to policy management without requiring any IT assistance.

These tools can speed and simplify enablement by applying policies in accordance with mobile device security strategy. For example, they can require passcodes and timeouts, and create secure network or email connections. Once configured, MDM software can also repeatedly check to make sure settings have not changed.

Next, these tools can give devices extra attention where needed. For example, use MDM software to deploy enterprise applications and remote diagnostic tools to fully supported mobile devices. These steps can let IT admins quickly and easily turn an employee-owned device into a fully functional business productivity platform.

In addition, deploy secure data lockers or secure email clients when you want to keep corporate data safe on less trustworthy devices. This is yet another way to enable devices that might otherwise be considered unsafe. These MDM-deployed tools can help IT fill safety gaps and therefore permit more devices.

These automated, over-the-air management techniques can help promote safe and productive business use while avoiding the need for IT to manually provision and support mobile devices.

Keeping a watchful eye

Finally, use network tools to monitor traffic, and make sure that all authorized devices are playing by the rules of your bring your own device (BYOD) program.

Next-generation firewalls and a growing number of WLAN products are application-aware -- that is, they can grant selected users and devices broader access to specific applications and commands. This is a great way to inch open the floodgates for BYOD while retaining IT controls to rein in bandwidth hogs and acceptable-use violations.

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For the best results, combine network traffic rules with intrusion prevention and link-layer prioritization to ensure that mission-critical traffic gets preferential treatment and will not be slowed by BYOD-generated personal traffic.

Of course, even with the best IT governance plans put into action, problems will arise. Develop new procedures for BYOD security incident response and troubleshooting. Focus on quickly containing the potential damage from a cranky, hacked, lost or stolen device.

For example, establish a process for BYOD users to report missing devices. IT should also have plans for locating such a device, quarantining it, wiping business data and (when necessary) permanently disabling future corporate access.

Mobile devices will continue to require IT effort and toss a few curveballs. However, taking a methodical approach to mobile device governance can make a world of difference in IT overhead and business productivity.

This was first published in June 2013

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