Today starts another series on BYOD insights from industry leaders and influencers. My goal is to combine industry details with key takeaways that can be consumed quickly. I have no personal or financial affiliation with any of the parties involved with these interviews.
The Evolution of BYOD – What You Should Be Losing Sleep Over
I spoke recently with Chris Perret, CEO of Nukona Inc., to get his take on the Consumerizaton of IT. Chris’ balanced command of industry insight and technical detail bodes well for Nukona, whose innovative solution is the epitome of a better mouse trap. His well-tempered outlook allowed for a nuanced mobile management conversation that, buoyed by his strong technical foundation, provided excellent insight into the future of BYOD.
Nukona is a relatively new company to the relatively new space of BYOD. The company began 18 months ago when Perret and the Nukona team decided to approach the problem of consumer devices in the enterprise. They believed that what many enterprises were and are undergoing is not a transition to consumer devices, but “something far more fundamental than that”. According to Perret “we are undergoing a move toward an “app-centric enterprise.” This means that apps are taking center stage in the access to corporate data. “The app is the terminal to the enterprise data and therefore, it is the app that you need to secure and manage,” noted Perret. His perspective is that the information is most important; it is an organization’s information that is the liability and not the device. “The device no longer matters in terms of management.” Perret warns that “in an app-centric world users want an instant on, app for anything, unfettered access experience – so much so that they will go around IT if the experience is locked down too tightly.” This expectation can cause data exposure if not managed properly.
BYOD Insight – It is the access the apps have, not devices that endanger your data.
Perret’s default position is that “the device is a hostile environment.” He views the trust model as fundamentally broken. Devices have multipath connections (3G 4G LTE etc). They can run anonymous code. They can travel away from the corporate environment. “Even with well-intentioned employees organizations need to assume that the device is hostile.” Many of the endpoint management solutions currently available don’t manage apps from this perspective. “They don’t have software control over apps, they can’t prevent the running of anonymous code, they can’t do packet inspection to detect data exports, etc.” Perret thinks it is imperative that IT shouldn’t trust the environment in which employees are accessing enterprise data.
BYOD Insight – Devices are hostile environments – manage accordingly.
Perret was also very astute to point out that the early MDM vendors took on a hard problem. They began developing solutions back when Symbian and other older systems were the top enterprise devices. Early MDM vendors had to write low-level code to control these first-generation devices. They did this because device management was the natural place to go. Yet, once deployed, “organizations realized they needed apps for their managed devices,” Perret noted. As time went on app requests expanded even further into the 3rd-party ecosystem. IT departments found out that they got right into mobile app management as soon as device management was complete. Perret argues that “every MDM customer will have need of mobile app management solutions as time passes.”
BYOD Insight – Managing devices is just the first step – recognize that you’ll be managing apps as well.
The last piece of the puzzle that Nukona wanted to solve was how to handle the diversity of app development. Perret noted that there are standards and APIs available to developers but that this approach has serious limitations. “Both approaches expect a behavioral change in developers,” he warned. This also places a reliance on audit mechanisms. It is a weak security practice to expect developers to become experts in security. Perret thinks that the role of developers should be to focus on leveraging the best tools available to create the best apps they can rather than on becoming security experts.
BYOD Insight – Don’t rely on the app development process to protect your data.
Next up – how Perret envisions enterprises can solve these challenges.
About Nukona – Nukona has designed a unique enterprise-grade mobile management solution that delivers an outstanding, intuitive consumer-like app store user experience for employees, while also providing the level of management, control and security that IT requires to support data loss prevention and compliance on both personal and corporate devices. To learn more visit http://www.nukona.com
Benjamin Robbins is one of the founders of AdminBridge – providing IT Administration from mobile devices. For more information visit http://adminbridge.com