For years, the debate has rumbled: mobile device management (MDM) or bring your own device (BYOD)? Which of these is the best way for enterprises to secure remote and personal mobile devices? BYOD has won out in most organizations. However, the pressures on BYOD security mean that the BYOD framework from even just a few years ago is now stale.The next paradigm in securing how employees use applications and cloud channels goes beyond the device altogether. The next phase is BYOA: Bring Your Own App.

Beyond the Device: Why BYOD is Going Stale

Broadly, BYOD has won the debate with MDM. Employees are resistant to the ways MDM can brick phones. They dislike any limits on functionality (and usually find ways to use unsanctioned apps anyway). Today, only the most regulated industries implement strict mobile programs such as COPE (Company Owned/Personally Enabled) or COBO (Company Owned/Business Only).

But here’s the bigger truth: The MDM vs BYOD is no longer relevant. This is because both approaches still place their focus on the wrong place: the device.

Today, business communications have migrated to third-party cloud channels: Collaboration platforms like Slack and Teams, chat apps like WhatsApp, and social media channels like LinkedIn. Increasingly, these channels even outweigh email as the hub of business communications.

In turn, user behavior has changed. Cloud channels are device-agnostic. They can be accessed via any device, through an app or a browser. All of the activity takes place in the cloud. People start a conversation on their phone, then continue that conversation on their computer at the office. Throughout, the device is only a conduit.

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BYOA: Bring Your Own App

Securing at the device level was always a clunky, one-step-removed approach. This is why, even after years, many people still find BYOD a security nightmare.

However, by securing at the level of the cloud application, you can protect at the moment of interaction. If you can instantiate security here, it no longer matters what device or what network an employee is using. It doesn’t matter where they are. The moment they are in their Facebook account, they are protected. Every WhatsApp message they send can be secured, whether they were using the mobile app or the desktop app. This is BYOA: Cloud-level, app-centered protection.

Bring Your Own App (we might also call it Bring Your Own Channel) moves beyond a dated preoccupation with the physical device. It transfers the security focus to what is actually being used to carry out enterprise communications, at the app level. Today, this is where the real security need lies. Enterprises need app-level security, because they need the security whether someone is using WhatsApp on their mobile device or in a browser instance. 

BYOA is an agentless approach, empowering employees to use the channels they want to use – normally, and without friction. Security is not coupled to any one application or device; employees can roam across devices and apps, and they are protected everywhere. Nothing needs to be installed. The security happens silently, in the background.

BYOA Takes the Brakes off Growth

With a BYOA approach, today’s business-critical channels can be fully embraced. With security at the app level, security teams can allow internal business communications to proceed on Slack, and allow marketing to go wild on Twitter, and allow sales to leverage WhatsApp or WeChat – all with peace of mind. Instead of going against the stream, security teams and compliance teams can green-light the channels and platforms that the enterprise needs to stay competitive.