Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa: Across Africa demands are changing, access models are changing and consumers are blurring the lines between corporate

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Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa

Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa

Across Africa demands are changing, access models are changi...

Shortage of Information Security skills in South Africa a cause for concern

Shortage of Information Security skills in South Africa…

The Information Security field is extremely fast moving, how...

Tips to ensure mobile safety

Tips to ensure mobile safety

Today, we cannot live without our mobile phones. We use our ...

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Thursday, 03 April 2014 11:39

Managing the mobile enterprise

Managing the mobile enterprise

BYOD has become the rule, rather than the exception. A recent MobileIron survey revealed that of the 3 000 respondents, a whopping 80% said they regularly use their personal devices – smartphones and tablets – for work purposes.


There can be no doubt that it is no longer a question of if enterprises will implement mobile device management (MDM) policies, but when. And further to this, once the devices are under MDM, businesses will need to address the information sprawl.

Published in Mobile
Preparing for the mobile workforce: Bring Your Own Device and beyond

The days where employees were confined to desks in front of a company-owned-and-controlled personal computer are long gone. Workers are increasingly mobile, jetting off to different locations around the country (and the globe), and they no longer keep office hours, preferring to fire off emails and complete tasks on the road and from home.


This was when we first saw the concept of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device), and with it, Mobile Device Management, enter the market. The premise behind Mobile Device Management was, initially, the need to control the data employees were accessing – mainly for security purposes and to curb the abuse of company Wi-Fi. The first phase of MDM was concerned with restricting information – and with good reason. If a CEO’s IPad, containing the latest pricing strategy, was stolen, the IT department had to be able to remotely shut down the device to prevent a competitor from accessing it. Likewise, if an employee left the company’s service, so would their smartphone - with all the potentially sensitive emails contained on it.

Published in Mobile
It’s time to end the apathy about mobile device security

Are false promises from major vendors lulling South Africa’s IT community into apathy about mobile device security? There are increasingly worrying signs that this is exactly what may be happening.

CIOs and IT managers are well aware of the fact that the move towards “bring your own device” environments is radically changing the landscape. Everyone is reading the same articles and everyone says the issue is on their radar – but they’re relying on the mobile device management (MDM) provided by the major players like Microsoft, RIM, Juniper, SAP and all the others.

The problem is, if you’re Microsoft or SAP, mobile device management is not your core competence – and it shows. The MDM offerings currently on the market from the major players are just not in the same league as what’s available from specialists.

Are you prepared to bet the security of your IT environment on a project that’s anything less than the best in its class?

The risks are not small. If I was a hacker with an interest in corporate espionage, I’d be spending a lot of my time right now in airport lounges and restaurants where senior executives hang out. It’s so easy to set up a smartphone as a WiFi hotspot that a lot of people are doing it -- with no thought about security. But just one unsecured hotspot could give the hacker high-level access to the entire corporate network.

To complicate things, it’s the most senior employees who are most likely to be bringing in their own devices, against the wishes of the IT department. These are also the people have access to the most sensitive information -- how many of them have downloaded board packs to their iPads?

Gartner has specifically warned that hackers are now targeting smartphones and tablets – and traditional security solutions are wholly inadequate to the task of securing them. You need a dedicated mobile device management solution.

There’s no point in waiting for “market consolidation” either – the other line we hear frequently. The truth is, the market is already consolidated and the leaders are clear. A quick comparison of last year’s Gartner Magic Quadrant with this year’s will confirm this.

The real tragedy is that until the mobile device environment is secure, you can’t even begin to explore all the new possibilities this change opens up. There are many wonderful applications out there that can truly increase productivity and competitive advantage – but until you know that cool videoconferencing app for smartphones won’t be exposing your entire network, using it is not worth the risk.

Published in Mobile
Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:09

Securing the Mobile Enterprise

Securing the Mobile Enterprise

Mobile devices have infiltrated nearly every aspect of people's lives. The amount of personal and corporate data stored on these devices, makes securing the information on the device a priority. A survey conducted in January 2012 by Dimensional Research explored the impact of mobile devices on information security in corporate environments, noting that 94 percent of companies have seen an increased number of personal mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, connecting to corporate networks. Increased employee productivity and mobility are the main benefits for organisations that allow these devices in the workplace, but those benefits come with their own set of risks.

The threats associated with mobile devices can come in many forms, including:

  • Mobile operating system – Every OS, including Android, iOS, BlackBerry and Windows, comes with their own set of security challenges. Threats can originate from mobile apps, the mobile browser, as well as insecure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi hotspot usage.
  • Employees – that the lack of security awareness amongst employees is often the leading factor impacting the security of mobile data. Many employees simply aren't aware of the mobile security risks and corporate policies associated with mobile devices, such as storing corporate data, customer information or access to business applications.
  • Personal mobile devices – The consumerisation of IT brings forth another layer of complexity as more employees want to leverage their personal mobile device for business purposes. While companies begin to accept the "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) trend, there are significant concerns about the privacy of sensitive data stored on the devices that IT must handle.

The first step businesses should consider when safeguarding against these security challenges is developing and enforce best practices and corporate policies for the mobile enterprise. This should include a list of approved devices that can access corporate data, the types of data that can be stored on mobile devices and taken out of a corporate environment, which types of mobile apps can be downloaded onto devices, procedure for theft or loss of a device, a routine for updating operating systems patches, requiring mobile passwords, as well as having the capability to wipe a lost or stolen device.

Mobile device usage in the workplace is a trend that has staying power because it un-tethers employees from their offices, allowing them to work more efficiently while on the go. As with any emerging trend, organisations will need to be careful about striking the right balance between mobility that empowers employees and the new security concerns that arise from it.

Published in Security
Blackberry Enterprise Server no longer the only game in town

The decline of RIM and increasing diversity in the smartphone market are driving more South African CEOs to take a hard look at their mobile device management (MDM) strategies.
Blackberry still dominates South Africa, with several surveys estimating they hold around 40% of local market share. But things will look very different in 12 months. RIM has lost its global tech edge, and the BBM service that has driven so much local adoption is finally seeing serious competition from rivals like WhatsApp that aren't tied to a single platform.
The trend of enquires Vox is receiving suggests that local corporates who've built their mobility strategies around Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) are being forced to adapt due to the twin pressures of RIM's decline and the growth in bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies.
There's a very strong global trend away from trying to dictate to users which mobile devices they can bring into the corporate environment. If you want people to be productive and available even when they're out of the office, they're going to want to be able to choose their own devices, and right now iOS and Android are where the action is. That's before we even consider tablets. The mobile device landscape is going to continue becoming more diverse for some time.
Fortunately diversifying doesn't have to mean writing off existing investments. Newer MDM systems like MobileIron can build on existing BES implementations, while establishing a platform that's more appropriate for the coming era of mobile diversity.

Published in Mobile
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 11:25

Mobility is driving infrastructure migration across ICT landscape

New technology being used in business

The Information and Communication Technology landscape is always changing. That’s a given, but what we do with this change is up to us. The pace of innovation and impact of global technology trends, and mobility in particular, means that we operate in a vastly different space. Welcome to the world of mobile-driven, information-centric commerce!

It really does not matter what size your operation is. Start-ups, SMBs, SMEs and large enterprises are not immune to the impact of mobility in the workplace. It is a force to be reckoned with and involves one employee with a mobile phone right through to a complete migration of the networking infrastructure – and everything in-between.

The fact is that any credible venture today has to focus on mobility and data, the underbelly of a range of growing ICT and telecommunications trends.

These trends include social networking & social media, ubiquitous & disruptive technology, Big Data, the impact of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and cloud-based services, to name a few.

High growth volumes within the mobile space has opened the door to a range of devices and heightened the relevance of smartphones and tablet PCs. 

It means that workers can interact and engage with the databases of businesses at any time. Information and systems are accessible from anywhere, anytime. Mobile storage devices and flash memory drives now have the capacity to facilitate the secure storage of high volumes of multi-media content from anywhere. We are now entering the terabyte phase of development.

It also means that the power to tap into resources, including the Internet, is truly only a click away. The growth of 3G and 4G LTE represent strategic opportunities to instil mature networks going forward.

We see the continued convergence of advanced apps within the mobile solution market. This is encouraging growth within the tablet PC market. Focused research & development and lower prices makes the advanced mobile solution market an attractive place to be for the consumer – irrespective of knowledge of technology

Social networks and social media are now very much a part of any credible corporate social strategy. These are genuine business-building tools that cannot be ignored. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are all used to expand the business frontier and engage automatically and instantly with a wider audience.

If there is any doubt about the strength and relevance of social media to business, consider that Facebook has a 900-million plus subscriber base and according to , the number of Facebook users in Africa in March 2011 was 27,414,240 and a year later, the figure stood at 40,205,580.

This represents penetration rates of 2,6% and 3,9% respectively. The forecast has been made that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Africa is very much a part of this growth. Countries like Nigeria are home to a high volume of mobile and Internet users.

The social revolution aside, there is little doubt about the impact of the cloud on business infrastructure. The public, private and/or hybrid cloud is becoming entrenched as a viable mechanism from which to control and manipulate infrastructure. It is particularly significant for companies that continue to look to reduce costs, minimise impact on resources and secure a return on investment. The days of businesses – specifically small businesses – having to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure to sustain growth and remain competitive are over.

Businesses are graded and differentiated based on the extent to which they are able to embrace these trends.

Today there is renewed appreciation for the ‘information’ in ICT. In a sense, businesses are going back to the basics and paying attention to data in a major way. Big Data is now the buzzword and it refers to the huge amounts of information that resides in cyberspace, otherwise known as unstructured data. The market is fast becoming more aware of the value of assimilating and analysing this data to engage with target audiences.

The bottom line for business is that there is no escaping the need to embrace mobility, take advantage of truly disruptive technology and the advent of virtual services in association with social media. This is the landscape before us – and it’s likely to be around for some time.

Published in Mobile
Restricting smartphones

Modern offices have been inundated with an array of smart devices such as phones and tablets. As these devices are often used for work purposes without corporate consent, they can easily turn into a security hazard, which is why companies are attempting to crack down on their employees’ mobile activity. William Hardie, Executive Head of Vox Telecom’s Enterprise Mobility Division, shares his views on the biggest mistakes companies make when attempting to manage mobility.

#1 Banning mobile devices altogether

Attempting to prevent your employees from bringing smartphones or tablets to work is not only counterproductive, but frankly, impossible. Organisations need to change their corporate culture to match the mobile zeitgeist of the world around them, not the other way around. Younger employees, in particular, feel so connected to their devices that they see them as being practically an extension of themselves. Imposing a ban on personal devices will not only alienate the staff, but allow competitors that do utilise mobile technology to gain an edge by offering customers access to sales and support staff using the channel.

#2 Applying PC solutions to mobile technology

Forget everything you know about PCs. PCs are accessible 24 hours a day. PCs are manageable, password-protected and wholly under the control of the in-house IT team. Traditional software management suites cannot be applied to mobile devices that are carted around daily and easily misplaced or stolen. A robust, multi-OS, holistic mobile device management platform has to be applied to govern the system successfully.

#3 Introducing BYOD initiatives without securing the devices first

Although a BYOD policy can be extremely beneficial, mobile data security and seamless integration into the corporate needs to be the first step in launching an initiative. We’re seeing global leaders like MobileIron enter the market and seamlessly remove the security and integration headaches, whilst also allowing for the development and deployment of mobile applications that can be used across all operating systems. This not only streamlines operations, but can lead to new sources of revenue or customer service channels for the organisation.

#4 Attempting to do it yourself

Although one would assume that an in-house IT department would be more than qualified to handle a mobile device management strategy, this is rarely the case. Mobile devices operate across a variety of platforms, including IOS, android, Blackberry BES/BIS or Windows mobile. This adds too great a degree of complexity to the workload of often under-resourced and under-qualified IT departments to handle. Companies should consider adopting a tried and tested globally accepted solution or technology, at least as a starting point. Leading research houses, such as Gartner, are becoming independent trusted authorities around tracking trends and providing thought leadership in respect of what solution to opt for.

#5 Ignoring the problem

When market research firm Columinate surveyed South African smartphone users, they found that more than a third of respondents are using their smartphones every waking hour of the day – whether at home, on the go or at work. The reality is that close to 8 million South Africans are bringing smart devices to the office and probably using them for work purposes. If such a device is not secured, it could be disastrous. Mobile data security is a pre-requisite to business continuity. One has to create a trusted device and user in order to protect company data.

#6 Partnering with the wrong MDM solution provider

There are a number of entities that claim to offer superior MDM solutions, but few that live up to their promise. It is best to follow Gartner’s MDM Magic Quadrant Report, which segments MDM suppliers against defined industry criteria that are deemed critical considerations for managing mobile devices.

Smart devices can prove to be powerful sales and organisational tools, but attempting to take control over mobility on your own is futile. Companies should use the technology and skills at their disposal to tame the mobility beast before attempting to introduce any BYOD initiatives.

Published in Mobile

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