Mobile devices: You're losing control
Do you face problems with your mobile device in corporate environments?
By Mark Gibbs | Network World US | Published: 13:02, 04 February 2011
There was a time, way back in prehistory, when your user population was manageable. They had PCs but you had control. They had floppy disks but you had the ability to take 'em away. They got to print anything they wanted, as long as you let 'em. In fact, they got to do anything they wanted ... as long as you let 'em.
Yep, in those halcyon days, you were The Man. Your word was law and their computer use was at your pleasure. Alas, that all changed.
Along came e-mail, then laptops. Then cheap USB drives. Then the Internet. Then Wi-Fi. Then even cheaper USB drives. Then smartphones. Then iPads. With each evolutionary step, your control weakened and now, here we are ... you are, well, fill in the blank.
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It is no longer a question of whether or not some user will ruin your day because they send something they shouldn't to someone they shouldn't, or install software they shouldn't, or click on the wrong link and get infected by malware; it's simply a question about how bad the outcome will be.
And you, you poor soul, are the one who's going to have to deal with the consequences. You are responsible for regulatory and legal compliance, privacy policies, and corporate data security, and when the ax comes down because someone has &*$#@% up, it will be your neck on the chopping block.
Today you've most likely got an answer to the desktop and laptop issues, but what about the mobile side of your business?
Those of you who wrangle a passel of BlackBerry devices may be saying, "Meh; I've got this nailed." This would, indeed, be great if, indeed, all you had was BlackBerrys. But unless you are in a very unusual enterprise, you don't.
Get out there and see what your users have. They'll be putting your corporate data on their iPhones, their iPads, their Droids, and all flavors of mobile platforms. And you, my friend, are potentially in a really, really bad place.
There are many facets to your exposure but the most insidious will come from mobile devices such as Apple's iOS platform and Google's Android operating system. The logic behind this is simple: These operating systems weren't built with enterprise management and security needs in mind and so, as a consequence, you face some serious problems.
These problems come about from two facets of mobile devices: applications and e-mail.
Applications on mobile devices are a huge concern as a channel for malware delivery because users can directly download apps from the iTunes store or Android app sites with wild abandon. As if that weren't bad enough, something like 75% of user e-mail is "unwanted," at least as far as corporate purposes are concerned, not only because it is irrelevant but because personal e-mail usually contains all sorts of "bad" stuff, from phishing attempts to malware payloads.
As these devices proliferate profligately in corporate environments and acquire all sorts of sensitive and proprietary content, they become an incredibly desirable target for the legions of ne'er-do-wells who would like nothing more than to, at the very least, expose your secrets or, at the most, steal your intellectual property and your money.