In just a few short years, the rise of the smartphone and the tablet has changed the workplace forever. The convenience of being able to work on your tablet or a smartphone rather than a laptop means it has become commonplace for people to bring multiple Internet-enabled devices into the office. This trend of bringing personal devices to work, known as bring your own device (BYOD), coupled with the ready availability of low-cost cloud services, is rendering redundant aspects of traditional security measures designed to keep home use separate from work.
Yet, although the convenience and flexibility benefits are clear, BYOD brings with it a new set of risks. The ability to store considerable amounts of data on a mobile device is undoubtedly handy. But, it is also relatively common for these devices to be lost, stolen or exploited. If the device has access to a small-business customer’s network, the risk is not much different to that of a PC. For example, an Android device with an exploit on it can do as much damage as a PC, both in terms of data theft and spread of network threats. Email, cloud applications, personal details and so much more all are to be found on unsecured mobile devices, and this makes them a juicy target for hackers.
In response to the trend, companies increasingly are adopting BYOD policies. Gartner expects that by 2017, half of employers could impose a mandatory BYOD policy on staff that actively encourages them to bring their own laptops, tablets and smartphones to work.
At the same time, a recent Spiceworks study shows that more than 60 percent of SMBs are not yet managing their mobile devices using a mobile device management (MDM) solution. A good proportion of these had no plans to do so, either because they thought the security threat was not big enough to justify the expense or because they did not know how to implement the solution. My opinion is that many of those that did not plan to implement MDM would change their mind if they had a better grasp of the risks. A smartphone is often perceived as being without risk. But in reality, they are dynamic; their behavior changes every time a new application is installed.
MSPs are in an excellent position to monetize the BYOD services opportunity. Customers don’t understand the full implications of allowing personal devices in the office, and they certainly don’t understand the underlying risks of employees having free rein to access corporate data with their devices. Educating your customers on the true costs of protection and the ROI they can get from using MDM solutions can help you provide additional value to your customers in an area that has quickly outpaced most people’s comprehension.
MSPs need to help their customers understand the pros and cons of mobile devices in the workplace. There’s a parallel here with the “good old days” when we had to educate customers about the importance of backup and disaster recovery—the many benefits are now accepted as common sense. It’s time to talk to them about the real-world threats from mobile, including hacks and data loss, and a good MDM vendor should be able to help you with that conversation.
Luke Walling is vice president of Sales & Operations North America at AVG Technologies. Guest blogs such as this one are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.