Ryan Kalember is chief product officer, WatchDox. With 14 years of experience in a variety of roles in the U.S. and Europe, Ryan has an extensive background in information security.
The rise of mobile should be welcome news to IT teams tasked with maintaining business continuity and employee productivity through comprehensive disaster recovery plans.
In the face of transit strikes, severe weather, a server or application outage and other events that keep employees from working on site, business operations can continue as usual, thanks to widespread adoption of smartphone and tablet use by employees.
However, the mobile enterprise doesn’t come without risk. That risk is magnified when companies fail to deploy secure mobile collaboration options and online workspaces that provide business continuity and can operate as a “light” data backup solution.
When catastrophic events force employees to work from home or remote locations, they’re likely to pick up mobile devices to collaborate with colleagues seamlessly by accessing, editing and sharing documents. The mobile productivity of a distributed workforce is a plus for the enterprise, but the inherent risk is the security of these devices and information access on it. Companies do not want to implement business continuity and backup solutions that will introduce the possibility of lost or compromised data.
There are five questions every IT team should ask about the role of mobility in business continuity and data backup plans:
1. How are employees collaborating when they work from mobile devices?
Unfortunately, most IT and security executives acknowledge that shadow IT is rampant and corporate data on mobile devices is essentially uncontrolled and unprotected. Unless firms provide a solution that is easy to use, workers will embrace the general box file-sharing services simply because they are more accessible. However, the very act of uploading a file to an insecure box means the organization immediately loses control of the company information contained in that file.
2. What happens to sensitive data after it’s shared?
The security risk extends beyond the virtual box. Once an employee sends a document from his tablet to someone via email or a file-sharing service, does the company have any control over what happens next? Once that file is downloaded or opened on another mobile app, for example, too many companies lose control over its use, increasing the risk of trading business continuity and productivity for security. And those firms in regulated industries, such as government, finance and healthcare, require an audit trail of who and how each person interacts with a document. The business continuity solution must meet these compliance requirements.
3. Which mobile tools are employees using to annotate and edit files?
Historically, editing a document from a mobile device has not been an easy process. Employees will typically go through several time-consuming, frustrating and insecure steps or use many apps to simply annotate or edit a document from a smartphone or tablet. First, the mobile worker has to download a file (too often from a personal file-sharing account), use her tablet to open the file in a mobile editing application, edit it, figure out how to save the new version back to the file-sharing account and then disseminate it to her co-workers. This scenario creates problems related to security, syncing, sharing and overall productivity.
4. Is there a better way to maintain mobile productivity AND security at the same time?
Enterprise file-sync-and-share (EFSS) solutions keep files safe wherever they go and on any device. At the same time, EFSS provides a user-friendly interface – an online workspace from which offsite employees can collaborate over files without creating high-risk situations around sensitive data. By delivering enterprise-worthy mobile productivity workflows to end users, IT can ensure that the next natural or man-made disaster doesn’t derail business continuity or data security.
5. How is mobile productivity affected when a device is stolen or damaged?
Often, if an employee’s mobile device is lost or stolen, so is the data contained on that device. Some solutions allow you to wipe the data, but it can’t always be recovered. An EFSS solution that allows employees to save and sync during the collaboration process creates a backup of the most recent version of the data. This way, if a device goes missing or is damaged, work is not lost. Employees can quickly log into the workspace from another device and get back to work. This also means there is no need for a separate device backup solution since restoring files from the EFSS server is a simple process, and even recovering other data such as emails from Exchange can be done with minimal effort.
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