Opinion

Dedicated followers of fashion

One of the drawbacks of consumerisation is that users are terrible fashion victims. This makes them gullible and easy to exploit.

It’s often difficult for a CIO to say no to users who’ve been whipped into a frenzy by the style magazines. When all the other chief executives got iPad 3s for Christmas it’s really hard to explain why they shouldn’t.

Lots of generic tabletsDo you want your CEO to look silly in front of his friends when they get their tablets out at lunch time? Well? What sort of a guardian are you? Good grief, people like you shouldn’t be allowed to have... oh, and don’t be tempted to have the “What happened to your Blackberry?” conversation; it won’t get you anywhere. The users will just start shouting “I hate you” and slamming doors.

I know what you’re thinking. You spent an absolute fortune on that Blackberry and it has everything. They wanted a secure enterprise server and a mobile virtual network, so you gave them one. Now, apparently, that’s not good enough for the CEO. He wants apps. Those apps will be the death of you.

Boy, I’d love to know where they get these ideas.

“Most consumer devices are insecure,” says Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. I think he meant users.

Well, OK, give your users tablets, but how are you going to secure the little darlings?

Well, first of all, you mustn’t confront them. You can’t hit them or shout at them, not matter how tempting that may be. It’s not the 1970s. A subtle, but assertive, approach is needed.

IDC analyst Nick McQuire is an expert on these issues.

Virtual private networks aren’t the only way to secure the mobile workforce, he advises IT carers and guardians. There are two technologies that can secure your CEO while he’s away in those important meetings: GPS and virtualisation.

GPS technology gives you contextually aware security, according to McQuire. This means you can set policies on the device location, so the software can recognise when the device is out of compliance and take action if necessary.

If the device goes outside its approved location (Hamleys, for example), the device will recognise that it's outside its approved GPS coordinates and lock. This type of security has real applications in some verticals such as retail, healthcare, or government.

Virtualisation is another option; hypervisors can be used directly on the device (at the chip level or above), allowing for partitioning of operating systems.

“On an individual-liable device virtualisation would enable the phone to have one operating system for business apps and another for personal information,” says McQuire.

A secure domain for enterprise applications and management security software is one thing. Virtualisation can also protect the security software itself if the phone’s OS becomes compromised.

This is well worth considering, especially if your clan starts clamouring for Androids.

Alternatively, you could just leave the little buggers to their own devices and let them learn from their own mistakes. That’s the best way sometimes.

“One of the problems is that there haven’t been enough high profile incidents involving iPads,” says Gartner analyst Leif-Olof Wallin, “so nobody believes that there is a massive security exposure. Malware attacks haven’t been bad enough yet so few CIOs are able to say no to the users.”

Lars Kamp, Accenture’s mobility services strategist, says the users don’t seem to have any historical perspective. “It’s the 1990s Internet mania repeating itself,” says Kamp.

Yeah, tell me about it, Lars.

This was first published in July 2012

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