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Tips for developing a mobile device management strategy

Make simple, easy-to-follow rules on personal device use

March 6, 2012 06:54 AM ET

Computerworld - SAN FRANCISCO - Caught between wanting to enable consumer mobile device technology in the workplace and securing data, IT leaders are increasingly faced with making tough and sometimes unpopular decisions.

For example, when developing mobile device management (MDM) policies, one of the less popular decisions is whether to wipe an employee's personal device after the employee loses it or leaves the company.

Dave Malcom, chief information security officer of Hyatt Hotels, makes sure that's one company policy that's written in bold print and in all caps.

"LOST PERSONALLY OWNED DEVICES OR PERSONALLY OWNED DEVICES BELONGING TO A TERMINATED EMPLOYEE ARE SUBJECT TO REMOTE WIPE," he told several hundred attendees at the CITE conference here.

"I'm going to wipe it," he reiterated.

While not a popular policy, it's one that many IT leaders have adopted as the only full-proof way of ensuring corporate data is not exposed when employees use personally owned consumer technology for work.

Hyatt adopted a five-page list of policies after it began allowing employees to use their mobile devices for work last year.

Other policies include:

  • Never store confidential corporate data prohibited on an unencrypted device.
  • Never store any consumer credit card data on any mobile device.
  • Users must provide access to personally owned devices if they become part of a workplace investigation or if they become subject to a legal hold in a civil litigation case.
  • Employees are prohibited from conducting Hyatt business through the use of personal accounts, such as text messaging and email.

Prior to its bring-your-own-device policy (BYOD), Hyatt workers were prohibited from using their personally owned technology, although that didn't mean it wasn't happening.

"We rolled out [Microsoft] ActiveSync and we started seeing devices that we knew weren't ours enrolling in ActiveSync," Malcom said. "So we said, 'Let's stop burying our head in the sand and start addressing the problem and start securing them.' "

As at most organizations, Hyatt's BYOD policies are in flux. For example, due to more stringent privacy regulations, Hyatt doesn't allow the use of personal devices in some foreign countries, and has instead required employees to use corporate-issued BlackBerries.

Tony Lalli, infrastructure architect for the Bank of New York Mellon, said his company, like others, has been on a roller coaster ride since the iPad 2 was released last year.

The bank's sales staff clamored for it in order to get rid of bulky paper binders used to pitch financial products to high-wealth clients. The iPad offered simple but powerful content distribution and a rich media method for reaching perspective customers, Lalli said.

But Lalli almost immediately ran into a problem attempting to secure data.



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