Bring your own device, or BYOD, is defined by Wikipedia as ”a business policy of employees bringing personally-owned mobile devices to their place of work and using those devices to access privileged company resources such as email, file servers, and databases as well as their personal applications and data.”
CIOs and IT directors need to ask themselves whether or not they are putting themselves at risk and is there any way they can succesfully manage the policy.
CNN Money points out some of the pitfalls of BYOD and warns companies of the risks involved in lax BYOD policies. The piece links to several studies done on BYOD and mobility risks, with one study in particular that caught my eye.
A study by the Ponemon Institute looks at real world examples of issues with BYOD. One of the key findings of the study found that “Fifty-one percent of respondents say that their organizations experienced a data breach due to insecure mobile devices, and twenty-three percent are unsure.”
These numbers should be scary enough to make anyone shy away from BYOD. The problem is that consumers are becoming more mobile and are connected and dependent on their devices. As a result, businesses must balance the need for their employees to be connected while not putting the business at risk.
One company to do this was Ingram Micro, who just bought out wireless company Brightpoint this month. The company stopped issuing corporate Blackberries and told their employees to buy a phone for both personal and business use, as CIO.com points out. Essentially, the company mandated BYOD to its sixteen thousand employees.
VMware has implemented a BYOD policy for its employees. As this trend grows, I believe more and more companies will institute policies like this. By requiring employees to use their own devices, companies can reap tremendous cost savings. Additionally, there are potential savings for employees as well since they can claim the device charges on their income taxes as they are required to do for their jobs.
But there is always another side of the story. The devices that employees use for business and personal use can create major security issues as another article from CIO.com points out. This story raises many issues about the Apps that users download to their devices and how that puts a company's data at risk.
The bottom line? What seems like a good idea may not be such a good idea after all.
Joe Townsend has been in the configuration management field for twelve years. He has worked for CNA Life Insurance, RCA, Boeing, UPS, and in state government. Joe has primarily worked with Serena tools, including PVCS Version Manager, Tracker, TeamTrack (Mashups), and Dimensions. He is an administrator for WebFocus and supports Eclipse users.