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BYOD: A Good Idea or a Security Nightmare?

Technology use in the workplace continues to expand rapidly, as smartphones, tablets, and laptops play an essential part in getting things done. Many businesses have a BYOD or “bring your own device” policy, which allows employees to use their personal mobile devices instead of company-issued ones for work purposes.  But do the benefits of a BYOD policy outweigh the risks? Let’s explore the pros and cons of BYOD:

Pros

  • Worker Satisfaction:Employees often prefer their own devices, which they are already comfortable using. They may not want to keep track of multiple phones or tablets or learn new systems. Allowing your employees to use familiar technology can help with recruiting and retaining happy workers.
  • Increased Productivity:BYOD gives employees flexible access to company data, apps, and shared files. They can work from anywhere, at any time, because they will almost always have their personal devices with them.
  • Cost Savings:Companies save money by not having to buy mobile devices or training employees on how to use them.

Cons

  • Security Risks:Perhaps the biggest concern with BYOD is security. Confidential and proprietary information can be at risk if a personal device is lost or stolen, or even if the worker permits friends or relatives to use it.  Exposure to hacking or malware is possible if an employee uses public Wi-Fi. Companies must also ensure that after employment is terminated, company data and applications are removed from the former employee’s device and that their access to the network is suspended.  Mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) can help address security concerns by enabling lost or stolen devices to be wiped and by keeping security solutions up to date.
  • Increased Burden on IT Staff:Your IT staff must be familiar with a greater number of devices and operating systems in order to troubleshoot and implement security measures.
  • Privacy Issues: With BYOD, companies have less control over which apps are installed or which websites are visited, including those more likely to contain malware. Employees may also feel that MDM or MAM gives their employer access to private information on the phones or tablets.
  • Liability for Damage:Durability is especially important in busy warehouse environments. Will a worker’s chosen device be sturdy enough to withstand work conditions?  And if an employee’s personal phone or tablet is damaged during work use, is the company responsible for repair or replacement?
  • Potential Infrastructure Upgrades:BYOD may mean more devices on the company network, increasing the demand for bandwidth and requiring network upgrades.
  • BYOD Policy Development:A successful BYOD program includes planning, policy development (legal advice may be needed), and training.

Is BYOD right for your business? Ultimately, managers must decide based on their company’s individual needs and resources. BYOD can work, as long as you have a well-researched and carefully thought-out policy and the proper technology in place to keep the company’s network secure and the workers’ personal devices supported. Talk to your VAR or IT integrator to help you create a plan and deploy solutions that are right for you.

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