Tips for BYOD Mobile Security on Campus
Nowhere is mobility more visible than on the nation’s college and university campuses. Students are tethered to their smartphones 24/7. Indeed, eighty-six percent of college students regularly use their smartphones, while 40 percent say they would like to use mobile devices more often than they do now, according to the Pearson Student Mobile Device Survey 2015, which canvassed 1,211 college students between February and March 2015. Students prefer to use their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices for learning, research, communications, and collaboration. In a university setting, students prefer to use their mobile devices for a variety of activities: to add or drop classes, check on homework assignments, review grades, assess dining plans, evaluate their exam schedules, check on housing assignments, etc. But it’s not just students who are highly mobile both on and off campus. Faculty members frequently use their mobile devices to distribute homework assignments and other content to students along with reviewing student projects, collaborating on research with their peers, and conducting other tasks. Meanwhile, university staffers rely on their mobile devices for recruiting, analyzing geographic markets for prospective students, training, and other administrative activities.
Higher Education Gets a Mobile Makeover
Advances in mobile technology have opened new avenues for learning, sharing and communicating – each important to the digital college experience and for day-to-day campus operations. Active members of the military, veterans, and other far-flung students are able to access online courses using their mobile devices. University administrators can now use their mobile devices to answer student questions about tuition, housing, and meal plans in real-time. Meanwhile, professors are beginning to complement their courses with mobile apps that are designed for specific classes. Having the right mobile enterprise solution in place can make a huge difference in enabling faculty, staff and students to take advantage of the connectivity offered through BYOD and mobile technology. Colleges and universities need an effective approach to secure and distribute mobile apps that are used by faculty, staff, and students. Higher education also needs a proven method for promoting the mobile apps it has available to different types of end users in order to drive high levels of adoption and deliver sufficient ROI from mobile app investments. Mobile device management (MDM) has inherent limitations that aren’t conducive to a university setting. MDM is a device-centric approach to mobile security that is used to monitor, manage, and control end users’ personal devices. Many mobile users don’t like MDM as they view the ability to be tracked by an employer or a university as an invasion of their privacy. Plus, most end users are reticent about the ability of an MDM system to wipe their personal data. Moreover, MDM isn’t designed to properly secure the apps and data that need to be protected in higher education, including personal data about students, financial records, etc. By implementing an app-centric approach, administrators can meet the wide-ranging needs of students, faculty and administrators while addressing security, distribution, and adoption requirements.
Making Mobile Apps Accessible
In order for colleges and universities to fully realize the benefits of mobile technology, it’s critical to have a scalable network that supports and empowers campus mobility and BYOD. This is why a growing number of colleges and universities are opting to use mobile application management (MAM) since it is less intrusive than MDM, more secure, and easier to administer. MAM offers several technical benefits to college and university administrators. A MAM platform that includes a private app store can make it easier for college and university administrators to distribute mobile apps and make these apps more visible to the target audiences they’re trying to reach (students, professors, teaching assistants, finance managers, etc.) by creating a consumer-like app store user experience. Meanwhile, network administrators can use real-time monitoring and analytics to continuously evaluate the health of their app program. Administrators can also use MAM to “wrap” security credentials around apps based on an individual’s role and responsibilities. Policies can be applied via app wrapping without requiring a software development kit (SDK) or making changes to software code. Meanwhile, dynamic policies can be added, amended, or removed without having to redistribute an app. This way, if the credentials for a manager in the bursar’s office need to be changed in a billing app, those policies can be modified without having to take the app offline. Best-in-class MAM platforms also include analytics tools that can be used to monitor app adoption and usage which can help administrators keep tabs on how employees are using apps and for what purposes. Colleges and universities are aggressively competing for both students and talented faculty. Having an effective mobility strategy in place can help ensure that the apps and data used by students, faculty, and staff are secured while enabling a collaborative, mobile campus. This article originally appeared on HigherEd Tech Decisions on April 7, 2016.