How do we manage the BYOD boom, at the technical end?

Much though we may deride our government’s best efforts to drag the tea and biscuit-chomping safe-job-for-life civil servants that line Victoria Street into the 21st Century, the UK public sector does appear to be trying to embrace the new world of information technology effectively.

Not only do we see the government G-Cloud with its 1700 (or so) services being currently being put out to tender… its seems that UK PLC has also moved towards creating a BYOD strategy.

BYOD (bring your own device)

The government has (surprise surprise) realised that “significant amounts of public money can be saved” if it allows staff to bring their own devices into the workplace.

“BYOD is coming to government although obviously not in the areas needing the greatest security,” said Liam Maxwell, director of ICT Futures at the Cabinet Office.

So clearly (or hopefully perhaps) this will give rise to newly fueled interest in technologies pertaining to mobile device optimisation, security, compliance and management.

To pick one example from many to illustrate the technology in question — Centrify has this month announced its DirectControl for Mobile. The tool itself claims to centrally control, secure and audit access to cross-platform systems, mobile devices and applications using Active Directory.

NOTE: Active Directory is special-purpose network administration and security database from Microsoft. It can be used to authenticate and authorise users and computers within a network of Windows domain types assigning and enforcing security policies.

Centrify’s new cloud-based service is intended to let enterprises centrally secure and manage smart phones and tablets, including iPads and Android devices, using existing Active Directory infrastructure, skill sets and processes to enable easy, rapid deployment combined with enterprise-class scalability.

The company has also announced Centrify Express for Mobile, representing what it claims to be the industry’s “first and only” free mobile security offering with no limit on the number of devices that can be supported.


The company argues to validate its position in this market with the following statement:

“Current Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendors deliver their functionality by forcing IT organisations to install additional infrastructure, learn new processes, and/or make intrusive changes to their IT environment to manage these devices. DirectControl for Mobile allows organisations to quickly and securely bring large populations of mobile devices under management using automated self-enrolment without requiring IT staff to deploy additional infrastructure, implement changes in firewall configurations, learn new skill sets or operate yet another management console. The solution maximises security and visibility through centralised management and reporting of enrolled devices and installed applications and through security policy enforcement of devices across the entire organisation.”

Will the government keep control of its BYOD strategy and keep all our public data secure? Do we need to worry?

Will civil servants get drunk and leave their tablets and laptops and smartphones (filled with sensitive data that shouldn’t be there) on trains, planes and taxis?

No of course they won’t – not all at, this will not happen.

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It's possible to both address security concerns and implement BYOD. What’s needed is to separate the Enterprise apps and data from the personal devices. This can be achieved with a solution like Ericom's AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables remote users to securely connect from various devices (including iPads, iPhones, Android devices and Chromebooks) to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser. This keeps the organization's applications and data separate from the employee's personal device. All that’s needed is a HTML5 browser. No plug-ins or anything else required on the user device. AccessNow also provides an optional Secure Gateway component enabling external users to securely connect to internal resources using AccessNow, without requiring a VPN. For more info, and to download a demo, visit: Note: I work for Ericom
Employ a decent strategy and utilise the latest security and networking technology and there is no reason for BYOD to pose any risk to the safety of private or sensitive data. Indeed, instigating BYOD is likely to be a key draw for some of the brightest minds in IT (as well as from other lines of business), who will be able to offer greater input around security and connectivity issues. As Ian Foddering, CTO of Cisco UK&I, said in a recent article on the BBC News website: "We found globally that 40% of college students and 45% of employees would accept a lower paying job with a choice of device, than a higher paying job with less flexibility." Ian will be one of the many speakers at this year’s Unified Communications Expo in March. Hugh Keeble, Managing Director of Imago Techmedia
Perhaps it would have been better to pick one of the several dozens US MDM vendors that *already have* Mac, PC, Droid, iPhone etc. solutions in production -- companies like McAfee, Semantec or Good for Government. What's more scary a drunk civil servant, or the showcased startup that borrowed 16 million last year alone but only added a few hundred clients?
While data security concerns are the top reason for not investing in the BYOD trend, we think that those concerns will wane for two reasons. First of all, data encryption is increasingly being offered "out of the box” for many of the business devices on the market. And secondly, a new group of Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools has assuaged the concerns of IT departments by helping them ensure device security compliance for data sitting on devices as well as corporate policy compliance prior to network access. Our recent enterprise mobility strategy survey with 164 senior business and IT executives sheds some light on the status of EMA implementation at the target companies, including the benefits and impediments experienced to date. Read about their data security and other challenges at: