The debate over whether or not BYOD (bring your own device) is an effective policy focuses on two major issues: productivity and security.
Proponents of BYOD stress the fact that allowing employees to use personal devices for business increases productivity immensely. A recent survey of over 500 executives by CIO Insight showed that 63% of the participants had an increase in productivity as a result of their BYOD policies.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, BYOD does create new issues in terms of security. It is well documented that many of the companies using BYOD often overlook the possible security threats it may cause.
Before you decide whether or not your company will institute a BYOD policy, let's explore some of the pros and cons in terms of productivity and security.
One of the most obvious advantages of BYOD is the flexibility it offers. Allowing employees to choose their own devices to use for work opens doors in terms of accessing newer technology and using equipment they feel comfortable with rather than being forced to adapt to company mandated devices.
With the consumerization of IT, the line between consumer and enterprise devices and software is blurred. This has created more options for users who want the ease of use offered by consumer products and the productivity functions often delivered by enterprise products.
No longer are employees restricted to a desk in the office in order to complete their work. With laptops, tablets, and smartphones, more employees are taking their work outside of a cubicle and into their homes, coffee shops, and anywhere they can get Wi-Fi access.
By being able to work virtually anywhere, employees can choose a comfortable environment where they are able to work within their personal preferences and subsequently work more efficiently.
Reduced help desk calls
People tend to buy devices they’re comfortable working with and have some knowledge of. The more they know about their devices, the less they will need to submit support tickets. Also, some software and hardware related issues can be handled by the original manufacturer or the company that sold the device if they’re under warranty.
Less control over business information
A survey conducted by Ovum found that over 60% of employees surveyed used their personal devices to access company information. When employees save business documents or programs onto their personal devices, the information is, in essence, being made available to anyone who has access to that person’s device. It’s easier to manage company information within the confines of an office, rather than an employee’s personal iPhone.
This threat also extends to mobile device usage in public areas. If employees use company devices on unsecured Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops or restaurants to access company information, hackers may be able to hack into their device and steal sensitive data.
Exposure to hackers
Over 25% of computers don’t have any antivirus protection. The people within that 25% who use personal devices for business are exposing privileged and sensitive information to hackers. Company- provided equipment is typically protected with enterprise level security software and supported by an educated help desk.
With personal devices, information is only as safe as the user allows it to be. That means that if they have a tendency to click on ads, fall for phishing attempts, or have a general lack of computer security knowledge, the company information they retain on their personal device is at risk.
Addressing security issues
Luckily, it is becoming much easier to incorporate a BYOD policy. Many security-related issues can be reduced with MDM software with ticket management integrated. Tracking the different IT assets under a company’s network allows the company to seek out potential security threats and monitor which employees may be acting irresponsibly.
Also, it’s important to have well defined policies in place specifically for BYOD. Issues such as what information can be accessed, what software can be downloaded, and other common security issues should all be included in a written policy.
BYOD can be a great initiative. While most companies are quick to note the advantages it offers, you must also account for the security threats it poses. By addressing the issues and having rules in place, companies do not have to sacrifice security for increased productivity with BYOD.