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How a Big Financial Services Firm Faced BYOD iPads

Tom Kaneshige | Jan. 24, 2013
With BYOD iPad security under control, financial services firm Blackstone looks toward tough challenges ahead, including the possibility of company-owned iPads and opening up its BYOD program to Android and Windows 8 devices.

Murphy: We restricted the use until we solved that problem with mobile device management. We implemented MobileIron and enabled applications such as email-still far and away the heaviest trafficked work application for mobile devices.

Now we have the ability to control centrally. MobileIron enforces a password, and we have relatively complex password requirements. We can track the device and expire it from afar when it connects to the Internet. This really shrinks down the ability for someone to attack that device to a very small window. We feel comfortable that no company confidential information is going to get stolen.

Then we implemented WatchDox to secure documents even further. WatchDox embeds digital rights management in the document itself. Unlike Dropbox, Box or any of these file sharing systems that give access to a document, WatchDox requires an authentication on top of the download. The stuff on the device is also encrypted. There's no chance of someone forwarding the document and being able to open it without being authenticated to the secure WatchDox repository.

Any blind spots with BYOD security?

Murphy: Nothing that keeps me up at night.

Android and other types of tablets are something we haven't allowed in the environment. On the Android front, the ability to do whatever you want as a manufacturer or a hacker doesn't make us feel overly comfortable. Also, the enormity of the different types of devices would put a significant strain on our IT staff.

Do you have plans to move from BYOD to company-owned iPads?

Murphy: There are lots of huge benefits going to an iPad. We've bought a few iPads and are trying to figure out if we can generate the ROI [return on investment] to justify issuing company-owned iPads. It's still inconclusive whether or not you can cut paper costs and other things enough to justify the full cost of the device. The jury is still out.

We've loaned iPads and offered WorkDox documents at our investor conferences instead of handing out enormous paper books, which are costly to print. People like it because iPads are lighter to carry around. They can try out new technology that enables annotation and different types of note-taking. We've seen major savings: 80 to 90 percent of our printing costs have gone away.

For conferences, we've totally justified iPads.

But on the day to day, can you really go paperless? If you go paperless, can you quantify the dollars saved? There are other obvious benefits, in terms of speed and having everything with you all the time. We're trying to better quantify the benefits of tablets. It's not an absolute slam dunk where we want to issue them to everybody in our firm.


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