The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement introduced new challenges to IT administrators, many of which are now being addressed by a variety of mobile device management (MDM) solutions on the market. But the general approach to MDM has neglected an important aspect of mobility, which is managing how devices connect to the corporate network over public, uncontrolled access points. The widespread availability of Wi-Fi hotspots, including the smartphone in your pocket, has sparked a “bring your own network” (BYON) trend with its own challenges that few organizations have even considered, much less resolved.
BYON is a relatively recent term that can have several meanings. First, there is the concept of bringing your own network with you on the road, as is the case when you have a subscription with a global Wi-Fi partner like Boingo. It could also mean the end user is creating his own alternate network when the available options are insufficient (e.g., using a cell phone in the office as a data access point for a corporate network already cluttered with mobile devices). Last, it refers to the security concerns raised by employees accessing sensitive corporate data from multiple networks at the same time, such as logging onto a public Wi-Fi hotspot to access the corporate network and then downloading files to a personal cloud storage system.
From an IT administrator’s perspective, each of these aspects of BYON creates new headaches in managing network access and performance, telecom cost control, corporate security and even compliance with federal mandates. By extending their mobility strategies to address BYON using policy-based management, however, IT administrators can better enable their road warriors to be productive while at the same time managing the connectivity, cost and risk concerns noted above.
End Users Are Their Own Wireless Network Admins
The advent of today’s smart, connected devices can have the unexpected consequence of employees being unaware of how they are connecting to networks to get work done. If the company is paying the mobile bill, employees seldom care what network they’re using—they just want fast access to the Internet and their data, so they don’t bother to use Wi-Fi.
Increasing Use of Mobile Devices/Apps Increases Roaming and Data Costs
The increasing number of devices per employee is causing an increasing the consumption of mobile data. Cisco projects that by 2017 the average mobile user will consume almost 2GB of data per month.Imagine the impact on corporate data costs where wireless connectivity is not contained through an appropriate BYON strategy that directs devices to the most cost-effective network. Additionally, although many companies think they are saving money by adopting BYOD, Aberdeen Group suggests they may be spending as much as $1,700 per year, per device, beyond what they would have paid with corporate-issued devices. This expense premium is due in part to companies’ inability to take advantage of volume-discount rates on equipment and services when they shift that responsibility from the corporation to the individual. Another factor many companies fail to recognize is the cost associated with expense reports for these devices, which can in some cases be 20% or more of the monthly service fee.
Security Remains Priority #1
Perhaps the biggest impact of BYON is the increased security risk. As users move about and connect to whatever network is in range, they increase the risk of data leakage. The unsecure coffee-house Wi-Fi can be spoofed by people seeking to steal identity information, and it enables access to the company’s network through the device, making it look like the employee is stealing or leaking corporate data. Every industry has its data concerns: corporations care about sensitive business data, health-care professionals worry about the liability of misplacing patient data and schools are required to protect students’ personal information and filter inappropriate data from the Internet experience. Some verticals have requirements in place that must be met to ensure protection.
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