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'Tis the season to think mobile

From 'Black Friday' and 'Super Tablet Sunday', to today, 'Cyber Monday', this weekend has comprised 2013's busiest weekend for consumer tablet sales. But what does this mean to a CIO or IT Manager?


According to analysts, this weekend kicked off a £5billion spending spree in the lead up to Christmas. 'Black Friday', a phrase coined in America to mark the day after Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday shopping season, sees many online retailers offer large discounts to encourage consumer spending. More recently 'Super Tablet Sunday' - the most popular day of the year for transactions completed on mobile devices, and 'Cyber Monday' - the day online shopping reaches its annual peak, have follwed, collectively become a key weekend in the marketing strategies of many technology retailers.

It comes as no surprise that tablets are some of the fastest selling products over this period. With it being over three and a half years since the original iPad was released, it's not just newcomers to the market that will have a shiny new tablet at the top of their Christmas list. Technology moves fast and the devices that pioneered the market are now cumbersome and lethargic compared to the latest super-slick offerings.

So large is this years' market that retail favorite John Lewis have forecast the iPad mini, Samsung Tab 3 range and the Google Nexus to be in their top 5 best selling tech products this Christmas, with one selling ever fifteen seconds! Newly merged electrical giant Currys & PC World have set their sights similarly high, expecting to shift one million tablets in December alone.

But why should this be a concern to a CIO or an IT manager?

Well the long and short of it is that come January a fair few of these devices are going to end up connected to your corporate network. Now that is not necessarily a bad thing; there are many benefits to embracing employee owned devices – increased staff mobility, greater productivity and reduced IT hardware spend to name just a few. What this does mean, however, is that if you don't already have an up to date BYOD policy in place, you have four weeks to prepare.

That's not long, especially if you consider that you ideally want to distribute this unfamiliar policy to staff before the Christmas break, so they know the procedures to take on their return if Santa was kind this year. That takes it down to just three weeks. Best start now.

Here are seven helpful tips to help you get started: 

1. Make it clear what devices are permitted and not permitted


Decide which devices employees are permitted to bring - smartphones, tablets, e-readers? Also decide which operating systems are permitted – there are at least five key players (Android, iOS, Research in Motion, Symbian and Microsoft) and many others, each with their own corporate benefits and drawbacks. Make it clear which devices you will allow onto the corporate network and which devices you will not.

2. Enforce a stringent security policy

Many mobile device users see passcodes as a barrier to convenient access. They may be right, but there is far too much sensitive information available to these devices to avoid them. We're not talking simple four number PIN's either – depending on the nature of your business it may be wiser to turn off the simple passcode feature and enforce longer, more secure alphanumeric passwords.

3. Define a clear service and support policy

What level of support will you offer to employees for personally owned devices - If any at all? What about support for applications? Also whose responsibility is it to replace or repair the device should it be damaged at work? And will a loan device be provided during the repair period?

4. What happens if the device is lost or stolen? Who owns the data?

This is one of the big challenges to BYOD. What happens if an employee loses a personal device that contains sensitive company data alongside personal photos, applications and music albums? The obvious thing to do from the company's perspective is to wipe the device. But what about personal content that may be impossible to replace? Does your BYOD policy state clearly that you reserve the right to wipe devices brought onto the network in such cases? If so, do you provide guidance on how employees can secure their own content and back it up so they can restore personal information once the phone or device is replaced?

5. What apps will be allowed or banned?

This should apply to any device that will connect to your environment, whether corporate-issued or personal. Major considerations typically include applications for social media browsing, replacement email applications and VPNs or other remote-access software. The question here is whether users can download, install and use an application that presents security or legal risk on devices that have free access to sensitive corporate resources. You may want to consider mandating random audits to ensure employees are respecting controls you put in place.

6. Integrate your BYOD policy with you Acceptable Use Policy

If your company is on the ball, chances are corporate-issued phones are already covered and treated like notebooks, desktop computers, and other equipment on your network. On the other hand, allowing personal devices to potentially connect to your VPN introduces some doubt about what activities may and may not be permitted. What if an employee browses objectionable websites whilst connected to their device's VPN? What if they transmit, intentionally or not, inappropriate material over your network, even though they're using a device they own personally? What disciplinary action should follow? What monitoring tools do you own or should you consider investing in to enforce such policies?

7. Set up an employee exit strategy

It's easy to overlook what happens to data on a personally owned device when an employee leaves your company. How would you enforce the removal of network credentials, e-mail access, data and other proprietary applications and information? You may want to incorporate a mandatory 'exit wipe' as part of your HR checklist. Make this process as easy as possible for affected users, talk them through backup procedures to safeguard purchases and personal information, but also reserve the right to issue a wipe command if an employee doesn't follow the correct process prior to their exit.

If you would like any further information or advice regarding BYOD, Mobile Device Management, Wireless Networking or Mobile Device Backup, contact Datrix. We are experts if deploying highly secure, highly available wireless networks and mobile device strategies. With clients ranging from small and medium sized Enterprises to hospitals and higher/further education establishments across the country, we are confident we can help.

Contact us on 020 7749 0800 or email enquiries@datrix.co.uk

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Topics: Critical Network Services