Friday, September 14, 2012

What should I do about BYOD?

There are lots of people providing canned advice about BYOD (for all the cloud related stuff too). It’s very important to understand that the only correct answer for the “what should I do about BYOD” question is the standard lawyer line: it depends.

Technology trends (I don’t question the fact that it is indeed a trend) such as BYOD often bring advice in the form of “you can’t fight the future” and “security is past the time of blocking new stuff”. I definitely agree that anyone working with security should keep an open mind, specially for technology trends. But those that are always anxious to stay on the bleeding edge should also understand that security must consider multiple factors when making decisions. BYOD is a very good example for that.

How prepared is the organization for BYOD? What’s the maturity and technology state of the organization network? About the applications, are they prepared to be used in a BYOD way? What’s the point of allowing people to work on their iPads if most of them use to work on fat client applications running on Windows? What about access control, encryption, etc? Is your network prepared to handle those for those devices?

Technology is only one aspect. Of course it’s easier to people to read email on only one nice smartphone. But are there any compliance regulations that should be considered? Financial Institutions usually have to comply with a lot of regulations regarding monitoring and controlling employee communications, how will they enforce those in a BYOD model?

It may be straightforward to decide about BYOD in a startup in California, but a big defense supplier may have a few additional threats to consider when deciding about that. Keep that in mind when someone asks for advice on BYOD and any other technology trend. The answer may not be as simple as you would expect.

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