BYOD: Risks & Rewards

BYOD: Risks & Rewards

The influx of personal smartphones and tablets in the workplace poses a series new queries for IT personnel. The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend brings with it a new set of management, security and application delivery challenges. IT admins, the world round, are testing strategies to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of BYOD programs.  Risks and rewards of BYOD programs must be balanced to create a mutually beneficial workplace for employee and employer.

Think positive

The BYOD revolution offers several rewards to employee and enterprise. When given the opportunity to use their own devices employees enjoy increased mobility, higher job satisfaction and improvement in efficiency and productivity. Increased flexibility and power of mobile computing has been proven to make the majority of employees more productive as they are able to access email and applications anywhere at anytime. A survey conducted by iPass of more than 1,100 mobile workers showed, employees who use mobile devices for both work and personal use put in 240 more hours per year than those who do not. BYOD also allows for greater choice, it is up to the individual to choose iOS, Android, tablet, phablet or phone. BYOD leads to lower organizational costs and improved end-user approval. Where IT is concerned a simplified infrastructure is possible, along with a reduction in mobile device management (MDM). Employees are responsible for the devices they personally own. This frees up IT teams so they might focus on strategic initiatives rather than time-consuming helpdesk requests. From a corporate standpoint a BYOD model provides a competitive advantage. As the model is attractive to employees it attracts top performers who seek work flexibility, and encourages employees to put in work outside of the traditional 9-5. Ultimately, increased employee productivity, satisfaction and efficiency will no doubt positively impact the bottom line.

Think twice

Are you considering the adoption of BYOD? Think twice.  Don’t rush a switch simply because you see it as a cost cutter.  Moreover, if you think BYOD is just about end users, you will find it is more IT-focused than you thought. Be aware of the risks facing your enterprise. Several threats are created when BYOD is introduced, it security teams must set up new policies addressing the inherent risks involved with employee-owned device integration.  Moreover, they must implement and enforce them with as little impact on productivity as possibility – a real challenge. Before implementing BYOD consider the following risks:

  • The biggest risk facing organizations who employ BOYD is lost and stolen devices.
  • Bandwidth and productivity may be influenced as users have un-regulated access to social media, games and a variety of web content and mediums that can eat up network resources and employee time.
  • Employees have the ability to jailbreak or root their device firmware. This gives the device owner administrator-level permissions and enables them to install and run potentially malicious apps.
  • Thanks to the increased mobility and accessibility to data whether by USB sticks or cloud storage services data leakage is a growing concern. Without proper regulation and enforcement mechanisms restricting the use of such storage systems employees may use these storage options for company data.
  • Adware, spyware, malware, you name it, devices are carriers. Many freely available apps collect as much data from their carrying devices as possible in an effort to collect and sell data to advertising networks.
  • There are always risks when personal and private data are mixed - lines of demarcation can be easily blurred. Moreover, companies with strict endpoint security who remotely wipe devices in the event of emergency wipe both company and personal data.

Among other risks, with BYOD rises numerous new challenges that must be considered in the development of any effective program.

Think Fast

Risks and rewards aside, BYOD is here to stay. BYOD models have proven to make employees happier and more productive while cutting enterprise costs. While still in the early stages, mobile management experts suggest, the best advice for employers is to assess employees and decide on an individual basis if they are appropriate candidates for a BYOD system - take advantage of the benefits while minding the potential risks.  Thwarting risks means implementing a simple yet strictly upheld mobile security policy framework. Adoption of BYOD now, means growing with the adoption curve, with the chance of getting ahead. Easier to evolve with the technology rather falling behind.