Blog Entry of 2013-Feb-22 in PRTG
Challenges in Times of Bring Your Own Device
Looking up customer data at home on the couch, discussing the planned campaign strategy online with colleagues during half time at the stadium, downloading the latest time management app, showing friends videos from your last vacation - in the age of smartphones, tablets & co., many people carry their business and private worlds around in pocket format. What is known in short as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or BYOA (Bring Your Own Application) has CIOs sweating: how should sensitive data be handled? How can company rules and general privacy policies be applied for devices that employees use at home, in the office and on the go?
Add to that the fact that the workplace of the future is nowhere near the end of its development: mobile devices and apps that make life even easier and faster empower always-reachable staff - with or without a healthy work-life balance - to become power users, switching back and forth between worlds. This creates the demand for well-thought-out, comprehensively designed security models that incorporate security of mobile devices for enterprise management.
But what do we, as a network monitoring provider, have to do with BYOD and consumerism? One might think, "Nothing, actually. That doesn't concern us. Why should anyone monitor devices that are not always in the network and are not critical to the company? If an employee would tuck the central server or backbone switch under his arm at the end of the day and take it home, that would be a different story. We've never heard of this happening before, so this topic is currently a non-issue for us."
But it isn't that simple. We might not have much to do with the issue of BYOD at it's core, but we have a lot to do with critical access points: if the majority of the employees at a company - Techconsult talks about 69 % of employees in companies with at least 250 PC workspaces - use private devices at work, the company should monitor critical access points (e.g., WLAN routers). If this trend continues and the number of mobile devices used in the workplace continues to rise, it is critically important that companies provide adequate network resources and bandwidth in order to keep with the trends.
Network monitoring can also help to keep the issue of security under control, especially with BYODs. Users with mobile external devices can be granted access to systems over WLAN only via VPN and Remote Desktop, for example. The necessary bandwidth at the WLAN router would then be kept track of as described above. Notebooks that should be able to access the LAN can be monitored for current virus scanners and operating system updates.
Of course, this does require technical and organizational preparation. For example, when using a certain router, only devices with recognized MAC addresses would be granted access. The company's antivirus software should be set up on these devices as well. In addition, the network monitoring software must be granted access to the mobile computers so that patch levels can be monitored centrally. That's where the PRTG Network Monitor comes into play, because the issues at hand are now infrastructure and security monitoring. And that's what we do best.