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BYOD: Bring Your Own Damage

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Companies need to start determining the impact BOYD plays on them and implement appropriate policies that would balance the security concerns, as well as their employees’ requirements, writes CATHERINE BERRY.

It is estimated that, by 2018, there will be approximately 10 billion mobile devices in use globally. The harsh reality is employers cannot prevent employees from utilising their personal mobile devices in the workplace, whether it be for personal or professional use. Further, organisations typically expect a high level of productivity from employees, and the utilisation of mobile devices supports this due to the large degree of flexibility it introduces for the employee. Unfortunately, the issue is exacerbated further by the fact that employees expect the organisation’s information technology to provide support in respect of these devices. What most companies do not understand is that they are in fact liable for the consequences of employees using their own personal devices for work.

Most employees would also be shocked to discover that that their devices may be subject to discovery request in the context of litigation involving their company, and may have to surrender their personal devices (containing browser history and including personal information, photos, etc).

The challenge facing organisations is that this employee IT ownership model, generally referred to as Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), significantly influences the traditional security model, particularly since these devices are being used to access corporate data. BYOD typically includes end users who provide their own mobile phones, use their personal tablet device at work, or where there are unsubsidised devices required for business utilisation. Organisations now have to determine what the exact impact is, in order to establish appropriate procedures and policies that would balance the security concerns, as well as their employees’ requirements.

BYOD without Borders

In an attempt to establish the organisation’s exposure to BYOD, an exercise should be undertaken to determine exactly what type of data and functionality is being exposed. Consideration should also be given to legislation which may impact hereon, such as the imminent POPI Act, as well as PCI-DSS requirements (if applicable to the organisation). Other considerations include geographical spread of the devices, given that this would not only increase risk levels, but would also require absolute clarity in respect of legislation applicable to those areas.

Password Protection, Remote Wipe & Lock & Disclosure

One of the primary concerns surrounding the security of mobile devices is the loss of such devices. Particularly in respect of the content on the mobile device being accessed, or the possibility of corporate data being accessed through channels such as VPN connections. Clearly security considerations must include password protection, encryption, as well as remote wipe procedures. Many organisations enforce ActiveSync policies, pre-installed in most consumer mobile devices, to enforce password protection and remote wipe and lock. As a further measure, employees should be encouraged to keep sensitive devices in their possession, and sight, at all times. Ensuring that regular backups are made will not only salvage lost information, but will also assist with minimising downtime by easing the transfer of the information onto a new device. Last and perhaps even more importantly, having a backup of the data will make identifying what information has been lost (and thus determining whether a disclosure needs to be made in terms of regulations) that much simpler.

Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigation Report considered 63,437 security incidents, of which 1,367 were confirmed data breaches. Of this, incidents where an information asset went missing, whether it be through misplacement or malice, accounted for 9,704 total incidents, and 116 confirmed data disclosures. Out of the 9,704 incidents, the theft / loss of laptops accounted for 308 incidents, desktops for 108, flash drives for 102 and a staggering 8,929 “other devices” (where the type of device has not been stipulated). Interestingly, loss of devices is 15 fold more prevalent than theft of a device. The statistics show that, in terms of location, 43% occurred at the victim’s work area, 23% from a personal vehicle and 10% from a personal residence.

Another concern posed by the use of mobile devices in the corporate network, is the risks posed by the integration of applications into our daily lives.

Vulnerabilities within the application could potentially expose the corporate network. Malware presents a major concern, particularly given the risk of it being injected into the corporate network at large.

Effective Policing Improbable

It is vital that organisations proactively engage with employees to manage their expectations relating to the support of personal mobile devices, particularly as this may impact upon information technology support resources required. It should also be borne in mind that help desk staff may require additional training to ensure that they are able to render the necessary support. Hinging hereon is the fact that organisations have less control over these devices. This makes identifying vulnerabilities which may exist, by utilising anti-virus software, ensuring patches are regularly installed, and implementing fire walls near impossible. Even if employees do agree to BYOD policies, it is questionable as to how effectively the organisation will be able to monitor the devices for compliance.

The complexities of cybercrime risk management are more intricate that imaginable; regardless of the complications – it takes just moments from connection to infection.  While staff may be protecting their personal computers, the general lack of awareness to safeguard BYOD tablets and smartphones poses a major risk to organisational cyber security. For all these reasons, businesses would be remiss to leave protection to chance, particularly in a country that is home to some of the best hackers in the world.

* Catherine Berry, Camargue Director, Commercial and Cyber Crime Division

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

Africa News

Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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