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Five challenges to protecting data on mobile devices

Mobile device protection can be problematic. Organizations that consider these areas of concern can get ahead of the trend and plan an all-encompassing data protection strategy.

The difficulty in backing up data residing on mobile devices cannot be attributed to one single factor. Instead, there are a variety of issues that contribute to the challenge of protecting data on mobile devices.

Mobile device types vary widely

Although iOS and Android are often the focus of discussion, there are various form factors and operating systems (OSes) to consider when protecting data on mobile devices. Android and iOS can be run on phones or tablets, and there are many different versions of each OS.

Furthermore, users within an organization might use competing devices, such as a BlackBerry, the Microsoft Surface or a Windows Phone. Unfortunately, there is no single backup application that works with all mobile device types and OSes.

Intermittent connectivity issues

Although tech blogs commonly use the term always-on connectivity, it is unrealistic to assume that mobile devices will always have connectivity. There are still many places where personal devices simply cannot connect to the internet, such as on airplanes or in tunnels. Conditions such as a drained battery or a malfunctioning cell tower can also inhibit connectivity.

Because continuous connectivity to mobile devices cannot be guaranteed, scheduled backups are simply not a reliable option for protecting data on mobile devices.

Devices may not be under the complete control of the IT department

In recent years, the bring your own device trend has taken hold, and it has become extremely common for employees to use personal devices to access corporate resources.

Although it is possible to implement a degree of control over such devices, administrators must accept the fact that a privately owned mobile device will never be as tightly controlled as a domain-joined desktop.

The organization may not always know which devices are in use

If employees are free to use personal devices for business purposes, they could conceivably switch devices at any time without being required to notify IT.

Traditional software usually does not work to protect data on mobile devices

Backup vendors tend to focus primarily on protecting server resources, public cloud resources and more traditional endpoints, largely ignoring mobile device protection. One reason for this is that mobile devices are not commonly used for content creation. Although this may have held true at one time, today's users routinely create content on mobile devices.

Next Steps

The importance of mobile device data protection

Explore options for protecting mobile devices

Mobile data backup vs. backing up laptops

This was last published in November 2016

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