Articles and Insights ,

BYOD Brings on a War of Worry

By Michelle Drolet
28 Jan 2013

It appears that BYOD, “Bring Your Own Device” to work, is beyond just being a growing trend if not currently a sanctioned practice within the corporate walls. It may seem that bowing to this desire on the parts of employees would have a lot to offer, not the least of which is a reduction in costs for employee-issued hardware. Unfortunately that is not entirely the case.

In fact, cost reduction should be the last reason for considering allowing BYOD.

Embracing this movement requires a well thought out policy that will be acceptable to both employees, who may want the convenience but fear privacy breaches, and the business, which must keep its own data and hardware safe from security threats while getting more productivity from its staff.

Employee concerns about privacy can be easily handled if the IT department has the right tools. But that is actually a smaller part of the issue. The larger element in determining BYOD policy must consider the entire life cycle of devices that are owned by private individuals and the impact on business security.

According to a survey by Cisco and Redshift Research, 48% of companies globally stated they would never authorize employees to BYOD. Contrast this to another finding in the survey: that 57% of companies state that some employees were doing it anyway without anyone’s consent.

Rather than continue to deny the trend, the best route to take is to put into place a policy that spells out what the concerns are from both sides of the aisle and how they will be addressed. Looking at privacy issues, employees tend to worry about:

  • Being tracked through mobile device management systems.
  • Employers viewing private information on their personal devices.
  • Deletion of personal information such as pictures, music, and email profiles.
  • Employers viewing the websites visited during non-working hours.
  • Being required to allow access to installed personal applications.

Tools are being developed by mobile device manufacturers to address some of these concerns. The resolutions include a virtual wall between personal information and what the company can see or the capability of housing two personas on a single phone, one for business and one for personal use. Other tools include allowing IT to push and pull corporate information without being able to access private, personal information.

In addition to this, many mobile device management systems come with security options to protect against employer invasion of employee privacy. Unfortunately, these settings are often not used. A policy should spell these actions out.

Company Security

Businesses must be sure employees understand the risks from a corporate point of view. Part of the BYOD policy should include education for business users regarding how company information is to be accessed, how and when this information may be deleted from the device, and what to do when the device is no longer to be used for work. Emphasize the ease and invisibility of cybercrime.

The rest of the policy must address what IT must do when an employee:

  • Leaves employment, taking the device with him.
  • Decides to use the device only for personal use.
  • Turns in a device for an upgrade.
  • Sells the device. 

Applications are another area that must be handled. The employee will not take kindly to being restricted in the applications he places on his own phone. Also, there is the possibility that the company may need to place a custom application on the phone for work purposes.

BYOD is here to stay. Prudent businesses are getting ahead of the curve by creating a policy that takes the entire device lifecycle into account.

 Download our free eBook “Beware of BYOD”.

 

By Michelle Drolet, founder and CEO, Towerwall
Special to BostInno

This article was recently published in BostInno