The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend has been around for several years now, with successful implementations all across the enterprise, but it is by no means universally accepted. Security concerns continue to cause hesitation at many organizations that must comply with strict data privacy regulations, and 2014’s rash of high-profile data breaches has only made those concerns more pressing. The cost-cutting and productivity-boosting benefits of BYOD remain clear, however, and a number of emerging BYOD security solutions may help overcome companies’ security objections to BYOD. Here are a couple to keep an eye on in 2015.
1. Desktop virtualization
The primary BYOD security issue that organizations worry about is the riskiness (and, in some cases, noncompliance) of allowing employees to have sensitive corporate data on their personal devices. Storing protected information on a personal device can lead to a disastrous leak or breach if the device is lost or stolen. It also gives unscrupulous employees greater opportunity to steal data: if they save it locally on a personal device, no one in the organization will have any idea what they do with that data while off the company network.
Desktop virtualization (VDI) can change all that. With VDI, all the corporate applications and data that an employee needs are housed securely within the company’s perimeter, under the watchful eyes of IT, and accessed by employees via a virtual desktop on their personal devices. They can interact with their applications and data just as if they were on a corporate machine, but without any of the storage or processing happening on their own devices. As an added bonus, this allows employees with multiple BYOD devices to enjoy a single interface and full functionality across multiple endpoints.
VDI has been around for a few years and has gotten something of a bad rap, but new developments in network virtualization and data center architectures are now making VDI much more feasible as both a productivity booster and one of the most promising BYOD security solutions.
2. Application and data sandboxing
Another of the most promising BYOD security solutions is sandboxing. Like VDI, sandboxing can help address the riskiness of allowing corporate applications and data to be accessed on personal devices, but unlike VDI, sandboxing takes a local approach. Sandboxing places corporate applications and data in a separate, secured environment on the device. Within that environment, IT can maintain remote visibility and control of activity and access as well as apply tools like Data Loss Prevention (DLP) to protect against unauthorized sharing of sensitive information. Sandboxing also keeps corporate data safe from viruses and malware in case malicious software compromises the device through careless personal use.
The benefits of sandboxing don’t stop there, though. Sandboxing can help assuage employees’ fears that their employers will violate their privacy when it comes to what they do on their devices in their own time, since IT can have access only to the sandboxed corporate apps and data. It can also be a powerful tool against malware by providing a safe space, whether locally or in the cloud, for suspicious files to execute. Thanks to these benefits, sandboxing is already a feature of some of the more advanced Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions and forms a key component of the newer Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) platforms. Citrix’s XenMobile EMM platform, for example, provides a sandboxed, full-fledged office productivity suite complete with corporate file sync and share.
BYOD security solutions will continue to develop and improve for as long as BYOD remains popular in the enterprise. And with the BYOD trend showing no signs of stopping, it looks like that will be for some time yet.
What BYOD security solutions are you keeping an eye on in the new year? Tell us in the comments.