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BYOD - who's in control?

Tom Paye | July 9, 2013
Introducing and managing a solid security strategy will be challenge for companies embracing BYOD.

"Most employers will have a policy about what they do with a personal device and how they'll handle any information they collect (like location of device). In general, these tools provide access to a lot of potentially sensitive information. In real life, most organisations are able to sensibly handle the difference between private and company information," he says.

To keep both parties happy, Sowri S. Krishnan, Vice President for Mobility, Cognizant, suggests finding the "middle path" between the two extremes of the complete freedom that employees desire and the full control that organisations seek over devices.

"Implementing the BYOD strategy is possible only with a comprehensive policy. To develop an effective policy, organisations need to define and understand factors such as which devices and operating systems to support, security requirements based on employee role and designation, the level of risk they are willing to tolerate, and employee privacy concerns," he says.

According to Tareque Choudhury, Head of Security and Advisory Services, BT, this trust issue is beginning to improve — it seems that employees are happy to give up a little corporate access if it means they can use their own devices.

"Many employees — 66 percent of those surveyed [in over 2,000 in cross-regional and sectoral interviews during the BT and Cisco Beyond Your Device research project] — are aware of what their employers have in place by way of a security system, a number unchanged from 2012. But only 42 percent of those who are being monitored by their employers are concerned by that fact. That number was 46 percent in 2012, indicating the possibility that employee trust of their employer may be on the rise."

Get the balance of trust right, and the experts suggest that the benefits of BYOD are more than worth the risk. Cisco Consulting Services estimates that the annual benefits of BYOD range from $300 to $1,300 per employee, depending on the employee's job role, according to Al-Zoubi. And Wallin says that BYOD programmes empower users, improving their personal productivity.

Choudhury explains a little about why organisations are working out how to mitigate the data-loss risks associated with BYOD to accommodate their employees.

"BYOD policies are popular, and popular programmes help to improve worker efficiency, happiness, and productivity. In addition, they have the ability to greatly affect innovation amongst smart device users. Many professionals — 76 percent of those surveyed — indicate that they believe their employers need to do more to fulfill the potential productivity inherent in smart devices. And 84 percent of IT managers believe that a BYOD policy conferred a competitive advantage," he says.

Indeed, some companies have already found their mobility BYOD programmes to be so successful that they have extended them to include personal laptops and PCs.


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