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Embracing enterprise mobility without jeopardizing data security

Markets and consumers are demanding businesses become more mobile. Success is dictated by data.
guy sitting in chair

The increasing power and reach of emerging technologies mean that business-as-usual practices no longer suffice for those who wish to stay ahead. Big data and the Internet of Things care little for past successes and it will be those mobile and proactive companies who will be the real winners of the digital age.

Powered and enabled by these technologies, workplace mobility is a trend that’s here to stay but, while it offers the springboard to push boundaries and challenge the status quo, it also represents a new wave of potent threats.

Finding the sweet spot between maximum mobility and maximum security is one of the great challenges facing today’s companies.

Workplace mobility: a refresher

Enterprise mobility is an approach to work where employees can perform their jobs from anywhere using a variety of devices and applications, be it a notebook, smartphone, laptop or a tablet.

A Nielsen report claims that 4 billion people (53% of the global population) are now connected to the internet, and nearly all of them (92.6%) do so using their mobile devices. Moreover, as per Enterprise Mobility Exchange, 42% of enterprises now consider themselves mobile-first.

Underpinned by concepts such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), enterprise mobility not only helps improve job satisfaction and increase productivity, but also allows businesses to connect in real-time with customers, enabling them to provide a personalized service, thus boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.

However, companies have never been so vulnerable to cyber-threats and enterprise mobility will expose those who cut corners when it comes to data protection.

Bring your own device

According to Forbes, the BYOD market is on course to surpass €330 billion by 2022, a massive increase from €27 billion since 2014.

People have now started to bring their own smartphones to the office instead of having multiple devices for work and their private lives. However, if these devices are not managed in a safe and structured way, a breach of corporate data becomes a real threat. The need for workers to be able to safely separate their private lives from confidential company information is crucial.

Data breaches can be fatal in terms of costs and reputation and this is a key reason why Mobile Device Management has become such a topical issue.

Mobile device management

Mobile device management is a type of security software that can be used to monitor, manage and most importantly secure employee’s mobile devices, including both tablets and smartphones. This includes devices that are deployed across multiple mobile service providers and the various mobile operating systems being used in the organization.

According to Tech Target, the role of MDM is to optimize the functionality and security of mobile devices within the enterprise while simultaneously protecting the corporate network.

Any company that wants to pre-emptively prevent data leaks needs to ensure they have a well-defined MDM plan. Tech Target argue that a complete plan includes: device inventory and tracking; app distribution and/or an enterprise app store; remote wipe; password enforcement; app whitelisting and blacklisting; and data encryption enforcement.

Within the sphere of mobile device management, containers have a crucial role to play.

MDM in a container

From a mobility standpoint, containerization is the ability to separate your private and work-related data on your device.

IBM outlines how it involves “encapsulating or packaging up software code and all its dependencies so that it can run uniformly and consistently on any infrastructure,” and helps allow developers to create and deploy applications faster and more securely.

They explain how containerization bundles the application code together with the related configuration files, libraries, and dependencies required for it to run. This single package of software or “container” is abstracted away from the host operating system, and hence, it stands alone and becomes portable— allowing it to run across any platform or cloud, issue-free.

Google Cloud argue that by providing a “clean separation of concerns”, containerization allows developers “to focus on their application logic and dependencies, while IT operations teams can focus on deployment and management without bothering with application details and configurations specific to the app.” This all helps boost speed and efficiency, security, and fault isolation.

By allowing IT administrators to control, secure and enforce policies on smartphones, tablets and other endpoints, MDM is now rightly considered an essential tool for companies looking to expand in terms of their mobility.

A sustainable future

Today’s workforce continues to challenge the traditional nine-to-five, desk-based model of working, towards a more dynamic, stimulating and flexible professional life.

As the battle for the top talent heats up across Europe, it is now these prized assets who hold all the aces, and this has been key in shaping the rapidly changing working world we see before our eyes.

In fact, according to Small Biz Genius, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005 meaning that more organizations are forced to consider what mobile strategy they want to implement.

The digital era offers tremendous opportunity but, given the fact that many industries are entering unchartered waters, security needs to be the foundation upon which everything is built. Those who proceed with a growth-first, security-second mindset will eventually sink.

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