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3/25/2011
01:45 PM
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Consumerization Of IT: Security Is No Excuse

At most companies, you can't just say "no" to consumer devices. Here's a plan to take the lead on information security issues.

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Consumerization Of IT: Security Is No Excuse

Sorry to break this to you, but if you're looking to use security as the reason to keep consumer technologies out of your company, you'll have quite an uphill battle. Not because the security risks aren't real (they are), and not because you can guarantee the data security on the devices (you can't). It's because, as with virtualization, the business benefits significantly outweigh the security risks. As I heard one CIO say recently: "Consumerization is a parade. You can either get out in front of it to stop it and get trampled, or you can grab the baton and lead the parade."

Consumer devices are taking hold quickly in enterprises in part because it's easy to access company data without having to get IT involved. Any employee with ActiveSync access to corporate email can get that email on their personal smartphone or tablet in less than a minute.

The first challenge in securing personal smartphones and tablets is knowing when those devices are being added and removed from the company network, and knowing if they adhere to company policy. Bob the engineer could connect with to his corporate email with a BlackBerry today and a brand new Android phone tomorrow. The problem is your company's email server most likely can only push a security policy to BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices. Without proper management, you don't even know that Bob is no longer adhering to company policy.

Don't despair. Securing the unknown starts with a tried-and-true technique: default deny. Through the use of mobile device management tools such as MobileIron, you can prevent devices your IT team hasn't researched or approved from connecting to company resources. Heck, you can even make it so that any device needs your mobile application installed on it before it can receive a single corporate email. These mobile device management applications can prevent unwanted applications from being installed, can force removal of certain apps, and can even remotely wipe devices, even if your email platform doesn't support security policies on those devices. If a device is rooted or jail broken, you can prevent it from connecting to your infrastructure altogether.

Oh, great, you're thinking: This guy thinks I'm going to default deny and then spend my life managing a whitelist of every single Android smartphone variation and every firmware variation.

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