While the mobility management space has gone through many technological advances in the past few years, mobile trends from the early 2000s have begun making a comeback. Joel Windels, the Chief Marketing Officer at NetMotion Software made the time to give us his thoughts on this phenomenon. With his experience at the mobile performance management and operational mobile intelligence company, Windels was able to provide insight on the subject.
The BYOD craze in the 2000s moved the business world away from offering corporate phones to employees, but this is starting to change in response to increasing mobile security risks and data costs. It’s much more difficult for IT to monitor a personal device, but if an employee is accessing sensitive emails or work information on that device, the company is still responsible for keeping that data safe. Switching wholesale from BYOD to all-corporate isn’t usually realistic, but many companies in high-risk industries like logistics, airlines or financial services are transitioning to a mix of BYOD and corporate devices, with the goal of moving to full corporate-owned over time. This can be accomplished in several ways. Business might offer a corporate phone for free while reducing perks that cover BYOD device data plans to create a financial incentive for employees to switch.
Employers are realizing that employees, especially those that work on the road or from home, do as much work on smartphones as laptops. While VPNs specifically for mobile devices have been around since the early 2000s and can seamlessly protect mobile traffic without the user noticing, they have not usually been a business priority. In fact, in a recent survey, 66 percent of companies reported that they don’t require employees to access corporate data using a secure VPN. Luckily this is changing as employers and everyday consumers recognize the benefits of mobile VPN. In fact, the number of VPN users worldwide has increased by 350% from 2016 to 2018. I fully expect that many more companies will implement mobile VPNs and require employees to use them in 2019.
Mobile Device Monitoring
Desktop computers in the 2000s were often heavily monitored by IT, with only a small list of approved websites and applications for work purposes allowed. These limitations were loosened over the years, and mobile devices were often not monitored for a variety of reasons both technical and non-technical. But this is changing as more advanced monitoring products allow employers to monitor employee mobile traffic in detail. This lets them ensure that employees are using devices for productive activities (not wasting bandwidth with video streaming or killing time on social media) and check that data usage is appropriate and safe.
A major part of this resurgence is driven by cybersecurity risks – if employees are accessing sensitive corporate information on their smartphones, IT needs to know where that data is being sent, if it’s being accessed on insecure networks, and if those devices visit risky sites that could be hosting malware.
Employee Security Training
IT training was a common occurrence at offices as personal computers entered the workforce, but has become less common as the working population becomes more tech-savvy. Now those trainings are coming back again, but in a different context. Employers are realizing the need to train employees on security best practices for mobile devices. Security software is just one part of the puzzle – users also need training on basic security practices like how to use secure passwords, how to spot phishing emails, and how to avoid fake Wi-Fi hotspots in public places.
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