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5 Years On: BYOD Risks, Benefits & Trends Examined

5 Years On: BYOD Risks, Benefits & Trends Examined

In the five years since the BYOD (bring your own device) initiative was introduced, the trend shows it has gained significant momentum. Yet, despite this, many of the original issues identified at the outset still remain. Like most things, BYOD has its pros and cons, and a series of articles I’ve recently examined brings light to these issues quite effectively.

An article in the Huffington Post entitled BYOD in the workplace: Benefits, Risks and Insurance Implications lists many benefits associated with the BYOD initiative. These include:

  • Saving money, in that the need to purchase separate devices is eliminated
  • Convenience for all concerned
  • Enhanced satisfaction and productivity associated with workers using a device they are both familiar with and like
  • Having a more relaxed work environment, as a consequence

The largest downsides for employees and employers, according to the article, are potential privacy and security breaches, respectively.

On the risk front, this post quotes research ascribing risk as the overwhelming reason provided by those not electing to use BYOD.

Some major risks cited are:

  • Stolen devices that are not properly secured
  • Lack of proper firewall and anti-virus software
  • Employees leaving with passwords and thereby having ongoing access to a company’s systems
  • Using unsecured networks

This article also raises the possibility of acquiring cyber liability insurance with the proviso, however, that this is an offering that the insurance sector still needs to develop.

A post appearing in Post-Bulletin in August 2016, entitled: Beware of BYOD, looks at perspectives more from an employee stance and makes the valid point that, despite, enhancements in security, employees often compromise their own privacy simply by using a company’s Wi-Fi network with their own devices.

In addition, companies often have the capacity to access, or delete, all content from devices that employees use at work, should they choose. Credible companies need to have a BYOD policy in place, but many don’t according to this source.

In his post entitled: Enterprise Management Myth Busters: Users vs. Reality, Carl Weinschenk also mentions privacy issues, but places far more emphasis on enterprise security as his chief concern. In his view there is nothing more important than keeping data safe. He does however concede that in many ways a BYOD approach significantly simplifies mobile management, in some respects, but questions if it’s worth the risk?

Weinschenk feels that although security technology has improved dramatically, with eight layers of potential security, there are still question marks hanging over this policy. He quotes RMON CEO, Tim Howard, who provides essential pieces of advice for companies even contemplating a BYOD policy. These include:

  • Having a written mobile policy so that everyone knows the rules. This concurs with advice provided by Post-Bulletin, as discussed earlier
  • The acquisition of Mobile Device Management Software (MDM), although in Mumba’s experience this can be an expensive and limiting exercise
  • Additional IT admin training for all staff, especially if MDM software is being implemented. In this regard security training should take a high priority including the use of strong passwords to access the company’s network and instigating encryption in the strongest format possible
  • As part of the above all employees should also be trained to remotely wipe their devices should the need arise, through theft, etc.
  • The workforce must be taught and encouraged to download and manage security and software updates on a regular basis

Conclusion

Whilst BYOD does have an impressive upside, the potential privacy and security issues are serious issues that must be carefully assessed and managed going forward. In this respect Mumba's Enterprise Mobility Solution addresses and overcomes many of the crucial areas covered in this post. Our team is able to provide both expertise and solutions to assist your organisation gain the maximum benefits from BYOD and we look forward to your contact in this regard.

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