Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have embraced “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies as a way to manage an increasingly mobile workforce and save on hardware costs. In a study of SMBs, Spiceworks found that 61 percent of respondents have a BYOD policy in place for employee smartphones, tablets or computers.
However, this approach can pose unique risks from an IT perspective, and the same research from Spiceworks suggests that SMBs aren’t taking security as seriously as they should with 56 percent of SMBs saying they had not implemented any mobile device management (MDM) strategies and didn’t have plans to do so within the next six months.
The primary security risks related to BYOD policies are:
Mobile devices are at particular risk of being stolen or hacked. Thus, the need for security is critical. Keeping work and personal life separate on an employee owned device can be tricky and can get quite messy if you do not proactively manage the process.
Dealing with Turnover
Contending with staff turnover can be a huge headache for SMBs where employees are using their personal devices for professional tasks. When they leave, can you be sure that they have wiped their device of enterprise data and files? It is easy for things to slip through the cracks if any employee who leaves is responsible for clearing their personal devices prior to their departure.
When people are working on disparate personal devices, you are at their mercy when it comes to keeping software up-to-date. If employees fail to run updates in a timely manner, company data can become vulnerable particularly if people are storing it directly on their devices.
Secure File Sharing
Working on team documents and sharing files between team members can get dicey when people are working on their personal devices, as well. Are they emailing files back and forth? If so, sensitive data in these files can be intercepted and compromised by hackers.
A comprehensive BYOD management strategy will include cloud solutions that enable secure file sharing and empower you to dictate which individuals can access which company files. It will also allow you to control program and system updates remotely. Because an SMB is likely to have a small, if any, IT department, the related technology solution must also be straightforward, affordable, and low-maintenance. There are several options on the market that we are recommending to clients:
AirWatch, owned by VMware, does a good job of providing users a hassle-free experience when it comes to MDM. The platform is an open ecosystem, so it integrates with Cloud applications like Office 365 and Dropbox. It is also compatible across a multitude of operating systems, which is critical given the variety of systems your employees might be working on. Equally important, AirWatch allows you and/or your IT team to control data on employee devices without infringing on their personal privacy.
Meraki, a company acquired by Cisco, offers multiple products aimed at helping businesses – small, medium, or large – tackle IT management needs. It’s a cloud-based ecosystem, with devices ranging in wireless routers, network switching hubs, security cameras, phone and communication systems and centralized device management software. If you are already using Cisco products and want to stick with one company for nearly all your business IT needs, Cisco’s Meraki is a great option.
Microsoft Intune also provides comprehensive, cloud-based MDM and enterprise-owned mobile device management solutions. As with the two products above, Intune is not designed specifically for SMBs, but it offers the same type of options, is still relatively easy-to-use, and is a convenient option for businesses already running heavily on the Microsoft ecosystem.
While the three products above work for small and large businesses, Hexnode is focused solely on offering MDM solutions for SMBs. With Hexnode, you get all the necessary features to manage both BYOD and company-issued hardware. Some of the highlights in our opinion include: support for a range of operating systems, over-the-air enrollment for remote workers, and centralized dashboards for remove device management and application management.
Consider a meeting with your IT team or your MSP to discuss which MDM solution is the best fit for your organization. Regardless of the solution that you adopt, you owe it to your enterprise to do something! One survey from CDW Newsroom on small business mobility indicated that over half of IT managers who deployed MDM technology reported that it gave them a “better grip on mobile devices and applications” to improve security, not to mention improved backup and disaster recovery, as well as reduced management costs. By establishing an MDM strategy in your organization, you will invest in your sanity while setting the enterprise a step ahead of its competition.