We have just switched off Lotus Notes as an e-mail platform and over to Microsoft Exchange. Now I can synchronize my e-mail, calendar, and contacts directly to my phone. The dark side of carrying corporate data on your personal device is that Exchange Activesync on Android may be configured to have full control of your personal phone. Enterproid’s free Divide app can help avoid that.
Work Can Haz Your Personal Data
Our organization provides Blackberry devices as e-mail/phone options. Many senior managers are also provided Apple iPads. Android isn’t supported. It is easy to set up an Android device to use Exchange Activesync, though, and it will streamline my productivity. In Lotus Notes, I had a number of rules that flipped e-mail out to my personal Web mail account after hours. Now, I can access the e-mail directly.
Unfortunately, when you use the stock E-mail app to create a new Exchange account, you may find that the Exchange server has been configured by your corporate IT department to require a laundry list of controls. Ostensibly they allow a remote wipe, but the default appears to be much broader: disabling cameras, wiping external SD cards, turning off password recovery, etc.
If you have anything personal on your device, you are potentially allowing it to be wiped by your company IT. Your company may be like mine, where there is no overt policy on wiping and remote control of personal devices. It was this, as much as anything else, that made me wary of ceding so much control over a personal device.
Separate Independent You from Work You
All of my devices are rooted and I use the Xposed framework to apply additional hacks to my phones and tablet. These modules make small tweaks to the Android operating system to improve it around the edges. One module enables you to bypass the Exchange Activesync security.
Install Xposed and the module, activate both and restart your device. Then set up your Exchange account (delete and recreate it if you created it before installing the module). When you accept the invasive permissions, the module will not actually grant the rights to the sync app. That’s my understanding anyway.
Another alternative is to use Enterproid’s Divide app (also available for iOS). It is a launcher that figuratively splits your phone in half. You create your Exchange Activesync account within the Divide container. Your e-mail, calendar, and contacts are synchronized to that part of the phone. Your personal container – where you keep your Angry Birds game, your Facebook posts, and personal e-mail and files – is segmented from Divide.
This is a great bring your own device (BYOD) option. If you are a solo or small firm lawyer, and are not otherwise using so-called enterprise mobile device management, Divide is a free app that will keep your practice information in an encrypted part of your phone separate from your personal data.
Divide and Conquer
It is better than just segmented space, though. When I was in my Divide calendar – in other words, my Outlook or Exchange calendar synchronized to my phone – I could also have Divide display my personal calendar, which is synchronized from Google Apps. This meant that, unlike an ethical wall where there’s a very solid divider, I could blend a view to both personal and work data without risking access to my work content.
Another positive is that my contacts are on the Exchange server. But those contacts do not synchronize (or don’t in our environment, anyway) with our Outlook Web App. They will synchronize to my phone, now, so that I can be far more productive with this Divide access than I would be directly to the corporate Web mail.
Most importantly, for me, is that I am not giving up 100% control of my phone merely to become more productive. My phone is already encrypted and password protected. Now my work information is separated from my personal information and I can be more mindful about keeping the two separate.