Alex Wood discuses the security risks for ‘Bring Your Own Device’ users...
Without a doubt, BYOD is the industry hot topic this summer. IT professionals are wary of it, end users are embracing it and vendors are trying to market it.
There is one very obvious and visible benefit of the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ phenomenon. Productivity increases. Quite simply, user’s work better and increase productivity while feeling more content with the freedom to use their own devices. Also, with a greater degree of personal ownership and personal finance involved, employees take the time to maintain their beloved gadgets. From a corporate perspective, there’s the clear cost savings attributed to decreased hardware replacements.
Also, BYOD allow employees to interact directly with IT in a positive sense. It reflects a proactive approach from IT departments, working with the end user rather than against them.
BRING YOUR OWN SECURITY
When you think about the negatives surrounding BYOD, the issue of security is never far away. Data leakage and the risk of malware are the obvious problem areas that spring to mind. Additionally, although very few people will deliberately steal corporate data, there’s always the risk of leaving a tablet, laptop, phone etc in the back of a cab. Importantly there is some great Mobile Device Management software around that seriously mitigates the risk of data theft.
One might think this issue is as simple as deciding whether to allow BYOD or not, but unfortunately it’s not as straightforward as that. Organisations need to decide whether to fully embrace the BYOD ethos or restrict it ever so slightly. For example, are you going to allow Android devices or just Apple? Some organisations suggest that Android’s open format makes it more susceptible to attacks, thus rendering the Google owned platform out of bounds.
There is also a reluctance from some employees around mixing business and pleasure. Whilst the majority of workers seem enthusiastic to embrace BYOD, it must be noted that some individuals are happy to just logon to their work device at 9am and log off at 5:30.
STRATEGY IS ESSENTIAL
Slightly worryingly, recent research is suggesting that two thirds of organisations don’t have any BYOD strategy in place. Guidelines and expectations need to be set, as well as a degree of accountability.
BYOD and Mobile Device Management software needs to go hand in hand. MDM needs to be more than a desirable add-on, it should be a pre- requisite. Any sane IT professional should have some serious reservations about a company even considering BYOD without any type of Mobile Management security tool.
Vendors and resellers need to help manage clients’ expectations and formulate a strategy. From the customer’s perspective, it’s crucial to understand whether BYOD is achievable, necessary and scalable. It’s a change in mentality – not just from the user’s perspective, but also to any organisation’s IT hierarchy.
Ultimately, IT in 2012 is about promoting flexibility. It’s hard to argue with the benefits of BYOD, especially when it endorses and encapsulates the notion of flexible working.
Alex Wood is Marketing Manager at Point to Point.
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