Like many other organizations with a large number of knowledge workers, Wedlake Bell has long embraced the benefits of mobile working. It began many years ago by equipping employees with BlackBerry handsets, which allowed them to perform rudimentary tasks such as email while on the move. As relatively closed and restrictive devices, they posed little security or cost risk to the firm while still enabling remote working.

As the era of smartphones emerged, David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell, realized that a slew of additional benefits could be enjoyed if the firm were to upgrade its fleet to iOS or Android devices. In fact, while many partners were attached to their BlackBerrys, a large number had attempted to work from their personal phone or otherwise pushing for more powerful devices.

Hymers worked with mobility partner Trinity Maxwell to upgrade its estate to iOS devices: primarily with iPhones but also a small number of iPads.

“We really wanted to ensure that as a modern business we need to meet modern demands, and that means that we’re as responsive as we possibly can be”

– David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell

This project offered all kinds of new productivity opportunities to the firm, enabling lawyers and other staff to do much more than just email – now they could access sensitive customer documents, look up legislation and edit files on the go. Trinity Maxwell helped with the implementation of an EMM solution, which was used to deploy the applications that employees would need on their devices – and block those that weren’t.

Yet David and his team encountered some challenges it hadn’t expected, and needed a solution that could overcome them.

Wedlake Bell

Company profile

Wedlake Bell is an independent law firm headquartered in London, UK. The firm has been helping its clients in legal matters since 1780, and it now employs almost 250 people, 60+ of which are partners.

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The tricky thing with mobile

The fleet upgrade to iOS was successful, and most employees were using their devices far more frequently as a result. This enthusiastic adoption soon became a problem in itself, when Wedlake Bell began experiencing bill shock events. When the statement came from the firm’s network operator at the end of each month, it would often include a list of overages and unexpectedly high roaming charges. Frustratingly, there was very little information about which devices were responsible for the high usage, and nothing at all on which applications or websites it was that consumed all the data.

This lack of visibility was a growing concern for David, who had also began to think about acceptable usage policies from a filtering perspective. While Wedlake Bell had robust controls in place for networks that the company owned, it had no way of controlling access to high risk or inappropriate content when a device was connected to 4G or public WiFi hotspots.

“Firewall used to be the edge of your network, that was your perimeter. iPhones, you have to protect those like a PC and ultimately they spend most of their time outside your perimeter so a change of strategy is needed.”

– David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell

Additionally, as a highly reputable law firm, David wanted to ensure that adoption of these new iOS devices didn’t leave the firm exposed to unnecessary risk. Law firms handle all kinds of sensitive information and a cautious approach to securing devices was needed.

David was well aware that although many believe iOS devices are safe from malware, there were all kinds of other attacks that these devices might be vulnerable to, and that the landscape was evolving fast.

“Mobile devices are less secure, they need more safeguards put in place. Historically it was understood that Apple devices were at less risk of malware and viruses. In recent years that’s certainly changed and iOS is at just as much risk as other devices.”

– David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell

A visibility-first solution

Again working with the experts at Trinity Maxwell, the team at Wedlake Bell began assessing potential solutions to these three challenges: managing data consumption, implementing an acceptable usage policy and keeping devices secure.

The firm eventually selected Wandera, which was the only technology that could provide the visibility and flexibility that David was looking for in overcoming these issues.

Firstly, Hymers implemented a series of caps that would massively reduce the chance of a bill shock event. Crucially, the essential services that staff would need, such as email, were whitelisted so that they could continue to be used even after data limits were reached.

“When it comes to PCs we block pornography and gambling, and so on mobile we just have those same policies in place. For employees, you really just want that same level of protection that you have in the office but for your mobile device.”

– David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell

Notifications were also configured to inform employees when certain usage thresholds were hit, and basic analytics were made available to every user. Combined, these features actually showed employees how their data plan was being consumed, which led to a change in behavior around excessive data usage – it turns out most heavy users didn’t realize how or why they went through their data plans so quickly. By providing this information to employees, the vast majority of accidental high usage events were eliminated almost overnight.

“I can see in the Wandera console that someone may have visited a malicious website, and then the technology has already blocked that traffic. – preventing the device from being infected with any malware.“

– David Hymers, Head of IT at Wedlake Bell

Finally, Wandera was able to solve the security concerns that the firm had been thinking about. Not only were data loss events made far less likely through the blocking of access to unsanctioned websites such as Dropbox and Google Drive, but Wandera could actively prevent many security incidents from even reaching the device.

Phishing campaigns have been moving away from the traditional domains of desktop and email, and towards mobile with applications like WhatsApp and SMS providing new opportunities for cyber criminals to obtain corporate credentials – a trend that Wedlake Bell had also observed.

Operating in the pathway of the data while it is in transit, Wandera is able to identify any instance where an employee may be attempting to reach a website that has been detected as hosting phishing content. The same is true of services known to be containing malware or access to apps that are leaking data. This realtime, always-on protection meant that not only was the chance of cyber attack dramatically reduced, but also that almost every single security event had been resolved without the need for the security team to recall the compromised device for remediation.

Having a solution that would be easy to deploy and manage was important to Hymers, who finds his time stretched to the limit as the demands of the modern law firm mean that resources can be hard to come by.

Wandera not only solved all three of Wedlake Bell’s key mobile security challenges, but once configured, it required very little time and resource to manage.

David and his team at Wedlake Bell are truly innovating in the mobility space, setting a standard that not many law firms have managed to meet. With UEM gradually replacing EMM, the concept of a unified approach to mobility and traditional IT is gathering steam, and it’s organizations like Wedlake Bell that are leading the charge.

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