Combating the BYOD security challenge

Sooner or later every IT department is going to have to get its head around the security implications of BYOD, here's one solution to keep in mind.

The BYOD trend opens up a whole new avenue for cybercriminals to exploit and poses some very real security risks for IT departments. BYOD is gaining momentum and whether they like it or not companies are eventually going to have to deal with the risks of the trend. 

A recent report from analyst firm Forrester predicted a 58 per cent expected growth in employees bringing smartphones to work in the next 12 months. What the statistic highlights is that IT departments that don't prepare contingencies could get stung.

What’s at stake?

BYOD comes with increased liability, as outside apps may pose security risks. With thousands of new apps being released on a daily basis, devices are susceptible to viruses or even data hacking. Employee usage will be another area to consider, as data control may be a concern. And though BYOD policies may be in place, both enterprise (corporate) IT departments and service providers will have to be vigilant and ready for potential failures or breaches.

These are all factors that will have to be considered by both the businesses and the supporting service providers. This puts the service provider at a whole new level of management and responsibility, and business customers will be looking to them to handle such requests immediately. Service providers will have to get past their own operational hurdles to provide such services quickly and in real-time, while guaranteeing security for both the network and data.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a recent Amdocs global survey of service providers found that the majority of respondents feel that security is the biggest problem in supporting business customers’ BYOD initiatives. Seventy-three percent of North American service providers, 75 per cent of EMEA providers, 88 per cent of CALA respondents and 50 per cent of APAC service providers reported being worried about BYOD security.  

And security isn’t the only problem.  According to Ari Banerjee, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, BYOD creates new complexities for both the enterprise and the service provider who must support features such as device care, bill split, security, shared loyalty and data plans and differentiated quality of service.   “If service providers can overcome the technological challenges of providing these features, the enhanced customer experience will lead to huge gains in customer satisfaction and loyalty,” said Banerjee.

Integrate BSS and OSS for success

Service providers also face a myriad of security challenges in supporting the BYOD needs of their enterprise customers. How can such challenges be successfully embraced?

Business support systems (BSS) and operating support systems (OSS) integration is essential for overcoming security issues and other BYOD challenges. Despite 77 per cent of respondents of an Amdocs global BYOD survey stating that residential and business BSS and OSS integration is needed to support the BYOD market and specific business requests, only half are able to link personal and corporate personas.   Except for Australia and pacific region (54 per cent), all the regions reported they were unable to link or correlate between a private subscriber and a corporate account.

Australia and pacific region respondents (77 per cent) also saw the potential benefits of linking private subscriber and corporate accounts, citing that it could provide personal offers which could cater to the customer’s family and leisure needs.

The lack of BSS and OSS convergence (53 per cent) is cited as the main inhibitor, because it prevents a single view of the customer (51 per cent). The absence of a flexible product catalog (37 per cent) and a real-time system for post-paid enterprise customers (31 per cent) were also identified as significant concerns for service providers.

The business segment represents huge revenue potential for service providers, and to capitalise on this market they will need to offer tailored and competitive offerings, including BYOD. By converging BSS and OSS, service providers gain a unified customer view required to support BYOD requests, such as creating hybrid plans and offering device support, ultimately simplifying the customer experience.

Service providers will need to ensure that their own systems are upgraded and ready to provide such offerings to their business customers, and that they are able to implement such services quickly and securely, while providing support in real-time.

Business customers will have to establish their unique BYOD polices and determine (to what degree) employees will handle their own devices and what type of support the business will provide. BYOD comes with increased liability, because outside apps may pose security risks. So BYOD offerings will have to incorporate very specific policies and include mobile management, and IT departments will find it necessary to oversee and support various passwords to enterprise-specific apps. Employee usage will be another area to consider, as data control may be a concern.

Integrating BSS with OSS is the surest route to BYOD success.

David Murray is the Vice President, Australia and New Zealand for Amdocs Uri Gurevitz, Amdocs Manager of Cross-Portfolio Marketing also contributed to this article.