BYOD ‚”Bring Your Own Device‚” is being punted as the next big thing in many work environments. But that doesn’t mean it will suit any work place, writes NATALIA DAVID.
Many work places embrace the ‚”Bring Your Own Device‚” (BYOD) trend and allow the use of personal devices like cell phones and laptops, only to realise they may have made the wrong decision.
At the same time, there are work places that desperately need BYOD but shy away because they don’t want to risk any infiltrations through computer monitoring software. And then there are firms that thrive through BYOD but have abused their powers in accessing these devices: to monitor employees you need a proper policy, and it cannot be done through an employee’s personal device.
When you initially consider the security issues associated with BYOD, you may well run away screaming bloody murder. Even if you wouldn’t have such a melodramatic reaction to BYOD, it could keep you on your toes and make your life miserable if you’re worried about sensitive data and information leaks.
For a growing number of people using their own devices all over the world, it’s a matter of convenience. Carrying your work from your office to your home for later continuation is something that suits both the employees and employers. The problem is that, often, people have no idea that there are severe risks involved. While this can’t spell that much doom for the person bringing their device to work, it can result in chaos for the business itself.
Why you might need it:
Cost: One of the main motivators when it comes to businesses allowing BYOD is the cost cut that they get to enjoy. The cost of buying and installing new machines is avoided if someone is willing to bring their own device to work. Often, people will invest in better machines than the ones a business is willing to provide. An employee could potentially buy an alienware laptop when the company can only afford something mediocre.
Adaptation: One wouldn’t have to worry about an employee taking time to adapt to a device whether a phone or laptop. If they’re already using the device, then they’re going to be comfortable using it in the long haul. Often, people have trouble adjusting to new devices while they have personal machines sitting at phone. It’s not easy to compartmentalise work for everyone, and some people need some form of synchronization between their data pools.
Content management: This becomes easier for your employees and you can ensure that the work doesn’t get stuck halfway through at the office if they need to coordinate the same things while working from home.
Why you should avoid it:
Content management, again: If you’re working with a proprietary operating system, BYOD will never be able to mesh in. There’s no way a machine that’s not in line with the business network/framework in general, should be allowed an induction. Additionally, often there’s a problem with plug-ins that are native to a work system, and fail to function on a BYOD machine.
Bugs: Your employees’ systems might be laden with them. Once you link them to your business systems, those bugs may infiltrate your system. Malware and spyware is extremely troublesome and, even if security on a network is top notch, there’s no telling what kind of cesspool an employee might link to the servers.
Wrong kind of multi-tasking: They can finish that recipe they started working on last night, edit the pictures they took at the party over the weekend and finish talking to their mother on Skype. The amount of personal data that exists on a BYOD device is, in business terms, atrocious.
No security check: You cannot force employees to keep their system updates and security settings in check. You can’t actually grab their devices and have a go at their settings either. If devices are stolen or lost, then that data is also not going to come back on its own and could fall into the hands of people who can misuse it.
Outbound traffic: Typically, if you allow BYOD in your office space, you’re ensuring that it becomes impossible to keep a check on the data that leaves the company. There’s no control over what information an employee sends where. Worse, there’s no control over what information can be stolen from an employee either.
At a glance it is obvious that the disadvantages of BYOD far outweigh its advantages. The truth is, however, that BYOD can be managed fairly easily and the disadvantages can be minimized to a large extent if a policy is created and implemented within an office space. BYOD devices are unavoidable they are not the only media through which data can travel out and malware can travel in and security risks are not limited to them. Portable disks, USB drives, removable drives and a multitude of other elements can add to security concerns. A foreign medium cannot be avoided, but it can be planned against and BYOD is no different.
What can a business do?
Once again, creating a clear policy is important. If you have a set standard that is already being implemented at the workspace, you should be able to stay clear of most trouble.
Pick the devices: Realise that you can’t control or monitor every single device that’s out there. You can create a restriction as to what devices are acceptable as BYOD and then make up for the shortfall when something doesn’t fit. Just because you’re allowed BYOD at work to cut costs, shouldn’t mean you allow devices that can’t fit OS restrictions at work.
Education on encryption: Lost/stolen devices, and even infiltrated ones, cannot be damaged beyond a certain point if they’re encrypted. It’s the best approach if you’re worried about security issues, regardless of whether it’s physical security or software security.
* Natalia David has been a regular contributor as tech writer, expert for some time now. Her work regarding Pc and cell phone monitoring and software to secretly monitor employees has received great appreciation from readers who turn to her to keep themselves updated with the latest happenings in tech world. You can also follow her on twitter @NataliaDavid4