December 2, 2014
Bring your own device (BYOD) isn’t going anywhere. While some businesses may still choose to fight it, there’s no denying the trend of companies adopting BYOD policies as a way to cut costs, increase productivity, and make employees happier at work. Those reasons may be plenty of justification for integrating BYOD into the workplace, but not everything is good news in the realm of BYOD. As more and more businesses have moved toward bring your own device strategies, they’ve also discovered the drawbacks that come with it. These negatives are enough to cause problems for any business, which is why any company looking closely at BYOD needs to know about them so they can prepare.
Perhaps the biggest way that BYOD can cause a problem for businesses is the security issues it raises. With BYOD being part of the office for a number of years now, industries are getting solid data on where to focus their attention, and security is easily the most concerning. In one security survey from this year, an incredible 95 percent of organizations said they had difficulty overcoming the security challenges that BYOD presented to them. Equally concerning is the 82 percent of respondents that said that despite the large number of security incidents in 2014, they expected an even larger number of incidents in 2015.
The challenges that come from improving BYOD security are many, but the most prominent deal with making sure company data is secured on personal mobile devices, monitoring and controlling which devices are gaining access to the company’s network, and managing devices that contain both company and personal information. In addition to these challenges, one of the most pressing problems is employees and their sometimes careless attitude when it comes to the security of their devices. Many employees don’t even follow basic security guidelines, like password protection, and there is always the worry over what happens when mobile devices get lost or stolen. There are, of course, ways to handle these issues, such as remote wiping, but all of that adds up to an even larger workload for an already stretched IT department.
That increased workload from BYOD certainly makes IT workers’ jobs that much more difficult as it creates a more complicated environment. When a business adopts bring your own device, it allows employees to bring in a large variety of devices that IT workers need to be prepared for. The same security measures that have to be made for an Apple iPhone 5 also have to happen for a Samsung Galaxy S4. With so many gadgets for IT to deal with, the chances of malware infecting the network increase. Making the situation even more complicated is how Android devices are increasingly being perceived as having the greatest security risk, even when compared to Apple, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry products. IT departments also have to worry about what apps are being used on phones and how safe they are for the company’s data.
BYOD may also cause problems in relation to employee privacy. While employees utilize their personal devices for work, that use intersects company data with the personal data on their Smartphones. The argument then becomes how much an employer can monitor a worker’s device without violating the worker’s privacy. Employees obviously would prefer not to have their boss looking at personal photos, texts, and e-mails, but the line between the personal and the professional becomes blurred under BYOD. A company may set up some rules and guidelines pertaining to how the device should be used and how the company can only look at company data, but nothing guarantees a business can’t view personal items. The problem becomes more pronounced if a device is lost or stolen. While a company could remotely wipe the device, that could end up erasing personal data from the phone or tablet. Needless to say, this can cause a lot of tension between employees and management, which can lead to a lot of problems for both sides.
Every company should be well aware of the potential problems bring your own device might cause. That’s not to say that the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, but any BYOD policy needs to be written with the pitfalls in mind. Only with a clear policy and effective enforcement can organizations implement BYOD smoothly. In this way, those companies that choose to go with BYOD can get the most out of the mobile strategy while mostly avoiding the problems that could derail it.
Article by Rick Delgado has been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue his passion of freelance writing. He loves to write about new technologies and security in a changing digital landscape. He occasionally writes articles for several companies, including Dell.