Enterprises see clear advantage of cloud computing and BYOD combo

The BYOD trend puts enterprise IT in a sticky spot. Despite benefits, BYOD and cloud cause security pains. This FAQ helps you prep for what's coming.

The BYOD trend finds itself at a tech crossroads. While end users are the first to embrace it, business managers and IT administrators remain skeptical about security and compliance implications. Since the benefits of BYOD are too tempting to ignore, IT teams must implement protocols to protect against problems mobile devices can cause and to reap the full advantages of cloud computing in the enterprise.

But how can enterprise IT make two new technology forces -- cloud computing and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trends -- exist without disruption in companies? These frequently asked questions offer expert insight and answers to give you a better understanding of how BYOD works with cloud, how to manage mobile devices in the enterprise and how to secure enterprise data. We also provide ideas on ways to tweak your corporate program and optimize your cloud environment to ease tensions in what is becoming a BYOD world -- whether IT departments want it to or not. 

What should I consider when creating or updating corporate BYOD processes?

To best protect end users and the enterprise, mobile security must go beyond the device.

Whether or not your enterprise has embraced the BYOD trend, your end users have. Therefore, instead of ignoring it, IT teams must create a formal BYOD program.

Your BYOD program must define support processes employees have to follow in order to work from a mobile device within the corporate network. Security is a priority, so define rules for accessing corporate applications, including whether any apps are off limits, and require passwords and key locks if necessary. Organizations must also address acceptable use policies and implement tools that identify malicious breaches in order to stop them from being introduced into the enterprise. 

How can I create a BYOD-compatible cloud computing strategy?

First, ensure that cloud application interfaces are exclusively thin-client technologies while making certain all devices within your environment support those apps. All applications must be exposed using URLs. This helps you build mobile device interfaces using Web-authoring tools. Remember, however, that not all browsers are the same when building a browser-based BYOD cloud strategy.

For browser support of applications, have an agent process (which is software that resides on the server and acts on behalf of the browser) access individual URLs. Finally, create a single virtual application for the end user once cloud processes are assembled.

Why is it important to ensure mobile security extends beyond a device?

To best protect end users and the enterprise, mobile security must go beyond the device. It should start with on-device protection that includes anti-malware, a firewall, strong passwords, lock-out procedures and remote data wiping if there are multiple failed logins. Using gateways between mobile devices and the enterprise network is also essential. It is imperative for IT to ensure that the cloud provider offers centralized security in the cloud when end users use mobile-based applications to access corporate data.

Mobile device management (MDM) tools extend cloud security policies to mobile devices, which helps to centrally secure devices in a cloud environment. Additionally, you might want to use hypervisors to separate personal data from corporate data and allow remote wiping in case a device is lost or stolen.

Can cloud really quell BYOD security concerns in the enterprise?

The short answer? Yes. There are companies that provide Security as a Service cloud products to secure mobile devices in the BYOD world, such as those from companies like Barracuda Networks, Sophos and Zscaler. Automation is key. MDM services help IT centralize security and provide more efficient management over a range of mobile devices.

Further, IT pros can use cloud-based anti-malware services to further uncomplicate their lives. Such services scan data before it ever reaches a mobile device; the network is better equipped to handle threats, and the cloud offers a faster, more agile way of dealing with security threats. Using cloud services, organizations can respond faster if a device is lost by locking down or remotely disabling the device. They can also focus on how to encrypt information and find ways to authenticate both the end user and the device. 

As an IT admin, you'll make your life easier by enforcing compliance policies within your company. While end users tend to be aware of security risks, that doesn't mean they are always compliant. For example, end users may disable the security features that come with the device, such as passwords and key locks. With a strong BYOD policy in place, you can mitigate the risks that may arise and take full advantage of cloud computing benefits.

Fernanda Aspe is the editorial assistant for TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group.

This was first published in December 2012

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