IT departments have multiple opportunities and challenges as a result of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) invasion. The most common opportunity is to reinforce enterprise network security from both the inside and the outside. Supporting BYOD also offers more monitoring and tracking of activities that provide a more detailed view of network traffic flow. Alternatively, it will be a challenge for some IT departments to give up control over which devices may access their enterprise network. Another challenge will be to have the users doing configurations for network access, which adds human error to a crucial part of the process. The opportunities and challenges BYOD represents are real. Enterprises must make their network infrastructure BYOD ready to meet the onslaught.
Whether one calls it Consumerization or the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era, it has clearly begun in earnest. The availability of 4G (Fourth Generation) phones, tablets, hot spots, and other offerings, and their usage are expanding at amazing rates. Cisco's Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Traffic Forecast Update 2011-2016 1 provides some eye-opening statistics for 2011:
Average Smartphone traffic was 150 MB per month, up from 55 MB in 2010.
Smartphones are 12 percent of handsets, but they account for 82 percent of handset traffic.
4G connections generated an average of 28 times more traffic than non-4G.
Smartphone average mobile network connection speed was 1344 kbps.
Mobile-connected tablets tripled to 34 million.
Tablets generated 3.4 times more traffic than the average smartphone.
Each of 175 million mobile network laptops did 22 times the traffic of a smartphone.
Mobile data traffic per laptop was 2.1 GB per month, up 46 percent.
33 percent of handset and tablet traffic was off-loaded onto the fixed network.
Mobile video traffic exceeded 50 percent for the first time.
The same document projects that over the next five years:
Over 100 million Smartphone users will be in the "gigabyte per month club" by 2012.
Mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population in 2012.
Average mobile connection speed will surpass 1 Mbps in 2014.
Smartphone handsets will exceed 50 percent of mobile data traffic in 2014.
Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 10 exabytes in 2016.
Mobile tablet traffic will surpass 1 exabyte per month in 2016.
Tablets will exceed 10 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2016.
With that coming at an IT department, now is a good time to look at the challenges and opportunities of BYOD.
Here are 12 areas that deserve careful consideration.
Most enterprises considering BYOD think of security first. After that initial reaction, the importance of the details will quickly vary. For example, securing the mobile device is important for different reasons, such as:
Preventing access to the enterprise network by an unauthorized user of an authorized device
Preventing unauthorized access to sensitive enterprise data that may be stored on the mobile device
Preventing any malware from infecting the mobile device and then the enterprise network
Preventing unauthorized access to the user's personal information
For these and other reasons, consider the following steps:
Establish a whole device password requirement with strong parameters such as at least eight characters, 90-day change rule, lockout after 5 failed attempts, etc.
Specify that "jail-broken" devices are unacceptable for enterprise network access
Secure the enterprise network independently from the mobile devices
Protect the enterprise data by keeping it in the enterprise and displaying an image on mobile devices, possibly via Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI)
Turn off Bluetooth
Restrict ad-hoc networks to enterprise employees
Create different access procedures for different user groups such as Guest, Executive, IT, Sales, Service, and Employee
Implement same-day de-authorization on user's departure from the enterprise
Monitor each authorized mobile device's communication with the enterprise, including user's authorized server(s), device location, and application(s) used
Develop a rapid reporting procedure for lost or stolen devices
Introduce the use of a Proxy Server for Guest access
Require each user access enterprise networks using 3G/4G or Virtual Private Network (VPN) when away from enterprise network infrastructure
Today's users often carry multiple mobile devices, such as a laptop, a notebook, a netbook, a tablet, and/or a Smartphone. A user will own some of those mobile devices. The enterprise will own the same make and model or similar mobile devices. Before granting access to the enterprise network, careful planning requires an inventory of the devices requesting network access.
Each mobile device has been on the market long enough to have seen multiple changes or upgrades to the operating system and other specifications. When adding devices to the enterprise network inventory, consider including the following items:
Wi-Fi versions supported
Cellular access (3G, 4G, both)
Make and model