Thursday, February 28, 2013

BYOD: Dear IT, my inbox is flooding with calendar invites what to do?

(Reproduced from blog of i7networks (i7nw.com) with permission)

I am sure you would have heard many such complaints of lately especially when all of us did 6.1 upgrade on our iOS (apple) devices and when we tried to sync up with ActiveSync on our apple mobile devices and sent calendar invites and it flooded everyone’s inbox by sending multiple numerous repeat of the same invites, filled up the the log files, brought down the network/servers especially the exchange server and in many companies hitting the network performance and productivity. This kind of email to employees were not common then

Dear employee,
Exchange traffic eg. emails, calendar appointments etc from an Apple device on 6.1 is spamming and brining down the network. This is a bug in 6.1 and this issue is currently being investigated by Apple/Microsoft. We will provide a further update or a solution as soon as possible. It is suggested that until this issue is resolved all email or calendar appointments be sent using the Outlook client on your pc or Outlook Web Access (OWA). Also it is suggested that not to upgrade to 6.1 until the issue is resolved.
IT Department

(Microsoft just released a KB article that details what we know so far:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2814847
Apple has also recently released a support article for this issue: http://support.apple.com/kb/TS4532)

This happened when you respond to an exception to a recurring calendar event with a Microsoft Exchange account on a device running iOS 6.1, the device may begin to generate excessive communication with Microsoft Exchange Server. You may notice increased network activity or reduced battery life on the iOS device. This extra network activity will be shown in the logs on Exchange Server and it may lead to the server blocking the iOS device. This can occur with iOS 6.1 and Microsoft Exchange 2010 SP1 or later, or Microsoft Exchange Online (Office365).

It was not easy for IT to disable all iphones/ipads running iOS 6.1 individually. Imagine try doing this in companies with few thousands in strengths to few ten of thousands in strength!! Enterprise should have the ability to recognize and discover such devices and/or apps and/or features and a way to disable either all devices in one policy enforcement say based on the OS and its version or by the application or by a particular feature in that application.

Tomorrow is not going to be simple with many more such issues and vulnerabilities going to come out and IT will demand a solution where in selectively non-intrusively can enable or disable certain devices, apps, features and will be very powerful tool to have and will be a must for an enterprise to run smoothly. This is where in such a large scale deployment situation makes sense to have a solution which works agentless non-intrusive way so that the policy control becomes just a checkmark and not wait until the OS vendor or the app vendor releases a patch (in this case apple finally released a patch to resolve this issue, iOS 6.1.2.)

In future IT just cannot send out emails saying saying please don’t upgrade and hope all comply with what is told but need complete control and discovery of all the devices that are plying on the corporate network including information such as OS, OS version, whether the device is compromised or not, jailbroken or rooted, in general the health of the device etc so that in such situations can easily & non-intrusively via policy management can enable/disable/block/allow devices to access.

Manjunath M Gowda
CEO, i7 Networks“Agentless BYOD Discovery & Control”
in.linkedin.com/in/manjunathgowda, @i7networks

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