BYOD use on Wireless LANs: How User Behavior can hurt WAN performance
Traditionally, companies would provide a company PC to employees and perhaps even a smart phone or blackberry (thank God we now have more options than the scroll wheel). Then as part of the equipment check out process the employee receiving the gear would sign a form with the all of the language from the corporate attorney talking about “acceptable use”, “only for corporate data”, etc. etc.
You can be certain that most employees start using company stuff for personal use the second after they get their corporately issued gear….But in general, when someone has a corporate owned machine they exhibit different behaviors with that machine vs. one that they have for personal use.
Corporate machines are typically locked down and limited to what types of things the user could load on the device. In addition, employees are much more aware that whatever they do on the work PC could technically be tracked back to them. If they are unproductive or load a bunch of viruses on the machine, they could be held personally responsible for that.
Fast forward to today into the BYOD world where the rules are changing rapidly. The trend to allow users to bring their own mobile devices to work is only going to be accelerated in the next few years. This could really suck for the IT admin who is now responsible for the Security and Performance of the network while trying to support devices that they don’t even have ultimate control over.
Consider this: Management won’t care if the reason your business applications don’t work is because your users who brought their iPads to work are streaming Netflix to the men’s restroom. The IT Staff will ultimately be responsible for poor network performance and security breaches.
Now that we’ve established that you the IT Admin will be held ultimately responsible (whether it’s fair or not), let’s talk about the behaviors to be aware of so you can come up with a plan to handle it.
Expect the following behaviors on your wireless networks in the BYOD world:
1) Heavy Streaming- Video and multimedia apps like Netflix are the culprits for crappy network performance all over the world. If you’re running a hospital wireless network you’ve got to maintain patient wireless access which is most likely video streaming as well as critical applications like wireless EMR platforms…..lucky you.
2) Gaming- Angry birds is addictive….and you can bet your users are addicts. Now that they’ve got their iPad and android phones at work they’re going to be trying to get to 3 stars on every level during their breaks. You’ve got to be able to control their habits while at work or at least keep them from hurting WAN performance.
3) File Sharing Apps- Did you know the music industry has enforcement agents that look for the IP address of the person who illegally downloaded content and then levy hefty fines to “set an example” of the music or movie pirates? Well they do. And they don’t care if it wasn’t you. They care if it came from your network.
4) Non-Productive Material- expect to see gambling, random web-surfing, chat, and even adult entertainment all from the comfort of their own device and at the expense of corporate productivity.
Now that you know what to expect you can build a comprehensive strategy. My recommendation is that you incorporate Network Security and WAN Performance Management into your plan for wireless BYOD infrastructure. Your mission, even though you haven’t chosen to accept it, is to manage all of the risks that come from BYOD devices without compromising security or performance of your network….good luck.
At SecurEdge Networks, we specialize in building completely secure wireless networks for BYOD. We also integrate the latest in next generation security and WAN performance management tools. If you’d like to talk to one of our consultants you can request a free consultation here. We also have some free resources on our site, we hope you find them useful.
Philip is the founder and CEO of SecurEdge Networks. He’s the consummate strategist and frequently writes for the strategy blog. You can follow him at @philipwegner