The need for end-user visibility in a Bring Your Own Anything environment

Mobiles, tablets, PCs, applications, cloud services – employees are increasingly bringing non-company devices into their organizations and connecting them to everything they need to do their jobs. As this phenomenon clearly goes way beyond devices alone, I’d suggest that the oft-used acronym BYOD is no longer sufficient, and should perhaps be replaced with BYO* – bring your own anything and everything.

However, while BYO* may represent an increase in mobility for employees, it also presents organizations with a headache concerning areas such as IT governance, compliance, mobile device management, and security. After all, with the ability to store corporate information on a device comes the risk of that device being lost or compromised.

As BYO* increases the complexity of an organization’s IT infrastructure, it also reduces the visibility the IT department has into end-users and their endpoints – essentially the weakest points in the IT security chain.
A solution is required to address such concerns, by providing real-time visibility of the entire infrastructure and all endpoints, along with which devices are connected, and services used. Organizations embracing a BYO* culture are increasingly deploying IT analytics tools that are able to analyze all network connections and application executions, delivering the perspective needed for full and clear visibility – that of the end-user.

Visibility for security
With news of security breaches making the headlines on a daily basis, and high-profile companies in every industry being compromised, it’s little wonder that security concerns are top of mind for CIOs. Along with an increase in targeted attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs), there is has also been a rise in zero-day threats exploiting unknown vulnerabilities in email attachments and web browsers.

While there are a range of solutions and technologies available to identify and prevent suspicious activity, businesses are beginning to realize that traditional solutions including signature-based antivirus software, firewalls, and endpoint detection software may no longer be up to the task. The latest generation of complex and sophisticated malware continues to improve its ability to hide among normal traffic flow. There’s now usually no warning before a business is compromised – it will find out too late, when the damage has already been done.

It’s critical therefore that, if an organization is to enforce its existing security measures, it must discover these types of anomalies and intrusions much sooner, especially in a BYO* culture. IT analytics solutions that focus on endpoint activity, providing context and situational awareness around the behavior of an organization’s end-users, will provide information invaluable in the discovery of emergent threats, and the prevention of incidents spreading throughout that organization.

Creating and enforcing policies
With the advent of BYO* has come the creation of a whole new raft of security policies and processes designed to address issues around mobility and the use of mobile devices. Essentially, while the infrastructure remains basically the same, the variety of devices, the number of access points, and the types of information available to users has changed dramatically.

The widespread adoption of BYO* has been hindered somewhat by the increased complexity it results in, and the lack of insight required to support it.

The creation of a BYO* policy is the result of a collaboration between an organizations management, its IT teams, and its end-users. Once a policy has been created, it is then up to the organization to educate its end-users, implement effective device management and support, and enforce the policy itself.

But how can businesses ensure that these BYO* policies are enforced? The implementation of an IT analytics solution to gather and analyze data in real time from the perspective of the end-user will quickly and easily show information not only on that end-user, but also the device the end-user is using, and the processes running on that device. Correlating this information with information on network services, resources and other factors will deliver the most complete IT security analysis available.

A truly successful BYO* policy will require the support that an IT analytics solution can provide, enabling the organization to strengthen its existing security measures and improve its business processes without putting additional strain on its IT department.

Business or personal
One of the initial attractions of BYO* was the money that could be saved by a business whose employees bought their own devices. Since then, the main driver for businesses adopting a BYO* style of working is about improving the experience for employees which should, in turn, result in an increase in productivity.
Regardless of the reason, businesses now recognize the need for a means of managing and enforcing the separation of personal and business use of devices and applications in a BYO* environment.

The perspective that IT analytics can provide on the use of individual devices – for what, and by whom – will allow IT departments to see the divide between personal and business, and enable them to proactively reduce IT risks, and that security and policies are robustly enforced.