In a recent article featured on Forbes.com, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is described as an inevitable component of the evolving office ecosystem. In the same article, a statistic borrowed from an IBM study reveals that 81% of organizations reported their employees are using their personal mobile devices to connect to “company resources”. If you are an AV integrator or the head of IT, this statistic probably conjures fears of rampant network security risks.
But BYOD doesn’t necessarily equate to network security problems. Based on the current trend of using mobile devices in the workplace – secure, network compliant BYOD solutions are almost certain to arrive in the very near future. It is up to technology innovators to meet the market demand by developing, testing, vetting, and integrating the products to keep up with the trends we see around us. In short, embracing the changing workplace dynamics – and the products that support them – is likely the only way forward.
Like any other disruptive trend in technology, there are growing pains in the adoption phase. One of the biggest growing pains for BYOD in the workplace is security. So what does a secure BYOD solution look like?
We have identified 3 key criteria for secure, network compliant BYOD solutions, which we’ve built into our Solstice product line for BYOD collaboration.
1. Routable TCP/IP Traffic with Adjustable Base Ports
The complexity of many corporate and campus networks is often matched only by their uniqueness. After all, the many subnets and VLANs included on the enterprise network were set up to serve the unique requirements of the specific organization. Therefore the likelihood of any other enterprise having the same network setup is infinitesimally small. This is why it’s so important that BYOD solutions that hit the network feature routable TCP/IP traffic with adjustable base ports – so the solution can be configured flexibly to fit the network without creating additional, unnecessary work for the IT department. This is also important in order to avoid violating IT policy, which could prohibit the deployment altogether.
As you have probably guessed by now, Solstice features routable TCP/IP traffic with adjustable base ports. This means Solstice doesn’t depend on any broadcast traffic (UDP) which consumes network resources and isn’t even allowed on most enterprise networks. Solstice traffic is routable with adjustable base ports so our customers can bridge networks if needed and adjust base ports if the default Solstice ports conflict with other ports in use on the network.
Unless you are fairly IT savvy, you are probably wondering what all this means…Well what this means in practice is that BYOD solutions with routable TCP/IP traffic and adjustable base ports are much more likely to comply with your IT department’s network policies, which will enable secure, compliant use of wireless devices in the workplace.
2. Controlling Access from all those Devices
Another security risk associated with BYOD revolves around the regulation of access in the workplace once these devices are supported on the network. To use a common Solstice use case as an example, if a wireless BYOD presentation is taking place in the conference room, how do you prevent uninvited users from sharing content to from their device and disrupting the meeting?
For this reason, access control is our second criteria for BYOD solutions. Solstice solves this challenge by offering multiple access modes that can be set in-room or remotely. Access can also be locked by an admin or left up to users in the room to determine when beginning a session. Additionally, Solstice’s access control options are dynamic, which means they can be changed during a meeting without interrupting the flow of information posted to the shared display.
The access modes available on Solstice include:
- Open Access – allows any user with network access to join the session, post media, and control the display
- Access by Screen Key – allows only those who can see the screen key on the shared display (i.e. those in the room) to connect to the session and participate
- Moderator Mode – allows one or multiple moderators to share and control the display; guest users may join with moderator approval and all shared content must be approved by a moderator prior to showing on-screen
- Access by Password – allows only those with the password set in the Solstice, configuration panel, to connect to the session and share/control the display.
In addition to these modes, any session can be closed once all in attendance have joined. This combination of access control options creates secure access for nearly every type of meeting and use case.
3. Remote/Centralized Management
It’s a hard truth that nearly all technology crashes at some point or another, and those crashes can lead to big issues for the IT department and the network. That’s why remote/centralized control is such an important factor for BYOD solutions, especially large deployments.
Not having the ability to monitor, configure, and update BYOD solutions on your network from a remote/centralized work station makes larger, more complex deployments difficult to manage. For this reason, we designed Solstice to support remote/centralized management of every Solstice instance across the network. With tools like the Solstice Dashboard and our browser-based configuration panel, administrators can monitor, configure, and update settings for any/all instances of Solstice from their workstation anywhere on the network.
Solstice Instances refer to the active Solstice displays currently deployed on a network. From the Dashboard, administrators can monitor their Solstice instances – seeing statuses, user activity, and network usage – as well as control the displays and manage Solstice settings like display name, access control mode, and network options. Furthermore, all actions available from the Dashboard can be applied to one or multiple displays simultaneously. Through the use of the Dashboard, Solstice enables the AV/IT admin to monitor and address issues before a complaint is ever filed. The Dashboard goes beyond normal security and service measures to transform your displays into networked IT infrastructure.
With BYOD becoming a standard in work spaces, security is and will remain a paramount concern and consideration for evaluating new solutions. The best solutions with work with your existing network and make it (relatively) easy for your IT department to securely deploy, monitor, and manage the system. BYOD presents many inherent risks, but many of these risks can and should be addressed by solutions that work within secure network environments.
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