Forrester: 10 ways to keep the company safe in a changing world of mobile

This past weekend, Google started to rollout its latest version of the Android mobile operating system, called Froyo. By this time next week, Apple's latest version of its OS - iPhone OS 4 - should be hitting stores on the next-generation version of the iPhone.

This past weekend, Google started to rollout its latest version of the Android mobile operating system, called Froyo. By this time next week, Apple's latest version of its OS - iPhone OS 4 - should be hitting stores on the next-generation version of the iPhone.

In the world of mobile, things are moving fast. For the folks working in IT departments, there's a constant race to keep up with the latest devices that employees are bringing in to the office. More importantly, the influx of those devices has prompted a lot of questions - questions that needed answers yesterday - about how the company should deal with it all.

The topic was the subject of a session at Forrester's IT Forum this week and the biggest piece of advice for IT workers wondering how to manage it all was quite simple: Don't.

Analyst Benjamin Gray strongly encouraged companies to outsource mobile management to a third-party vendor that had the resources to deal with things like software updates, security issues, data protection and remote wipe security features. An IT staff that's already spread thin will find itself even more stressed by having to deal with numerous platforms and devices for a range of employees.

But that doesn't mean a company shouldn't be double-timing some of its own efforts around mobile - specifically, the creation of a mobile policy. Gray emphasized that a formal mobile policy reduces risk for the company and puts out there - without no doubt - where the company stands on things like support, service billing, password locks and data protection.

As part of his presentation, Gray offered some best practice tips on how to deal with the changing mobile environment. Here's the Top 10 tips I took from it:

  • Segment the workforce: Some employees will need mobile support while others might just want it. Figure out roles and needs and divide those employees into groups.
  • Use a single Web-based console for all management and security apps.
  • Plan to support personal devices. IT folks can try to fight it - but eventually, they'll lose.
  • Avoid putting a company logo on the device.
  • Enforce a strong password policy.
  • Automate remote device wipe after 10 unsuccessful authentication attempts
  • Remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices
  • Encrypt the data
  • Spell out appropriate use
  • Invest in a mobile device management or managed services offering

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