To BYOD or not to BYOD – that Is the Question

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Bring Your Own Device to work is the trend of the recent years that’s been spreading all over the world. What exactly is it? The answer is very simple – it’s one of the consequences of consumerization of IT, when companies allow and encourage their employees to bring their own electronic devices to their workplaces and use them for work purposes.

With the introduction and spread of BYOD, a major overhaul of the very concept of corporate IT infrastructure was launched. It’s only logical that as the devices generally grow more powerful and versatile, there’s no reason not to acknowledge and take advantage of this fact. Using one device for all purposes, both personal and professional, should allow for more seamless integration, on one hand, but is doesn’t come without very specific detrimental effects.

Advantages and drawbacks

Let’s take a closer look at the challenges and benefits BYOD affords the company that begins to realize this strategy. BYOD is generally treated by technology experts as providing more advantages than problems – when properly implemented, of course.

What are the positive factors?

For the company, the instant benefits are in the reduced costs due to the absence of the need to purchase and maintain an extensive IT infrastructure, greater productivity due to the convenience of familiar devices, and generally greater employee satisfaction.

The spread of BYOD is somewhat limited by companies’ hesitations to implement it in their particular firm for security reasons. Such caution is explained by the perfectly understandable fear of information leaks. However, the latter is not necessarily a BYOD-related problem. Access to sensitive information of all kinds has always been an issue, and the onset of the computer era may have only exacerbated it somewhat. Pen and paper also served the purposes of industrial espionage perfectly well, as did CDs, flash drives, e-mail and other data transmission methods in the earlier years. In addition, people have been bringing their own devices to work for a long time, the only change that BYOD company policies may bring is the company’s acknowledgement of the situation.

Is BYOD more of a risk or an advantage? Well, NOT implementing some sort of BYOD policy will not make the issue go away, since such ignorance may pose a far greater exposure to various threats. For one, we all need to accept that BYOD is already here, and outline our company approach.

Regulatory policies for BYOD implementation

If you’ve decided that BYOD is a useful solution in case of your company, you should plan out its implementation thoroughly. There’s no reason to abandon corporate standards at once and give in to anarchy where everyone has access to everything. Just as with any technology, there are measures to be taken in order to regulate and contain the potential problems it may bring – at least to some extent. What are they?

  • Instructing employees of their new responsibilities and new risks;
  • Achieving an understanding in regard to specific requirements for the operating system, work-related applications and antivirus software that should be installed on all employee devices;
  • Determining policies regarding remote access and data security;
  • Outlining data access levels;
  • Establishing a procedure for securing data in case of employee termination, device loss or theft, etc.;
  • Regulating passcode protection and data encryption;
  • Considering mobile employee monitoring solutions.

BYOD and mobile monitoring

Let’s discuss the last option in more detail. There are numerous software solutions, such as mSpy, Highster Mobile and FlexiSpy, that allow employers to monitor their employees’ activities on their devices. According to the laws of most countries, adults have to be mandatorily informed when a mobile monitoring app is installed on their phones even if the phone is provided by the company. Once installed, there’s no need for any contact with the target phone, while practically anything a person does on the phone is readily available for review. The program features usually include call, e-mail, instant message and SMS monitoring, internet use and location tracking. It may be a bit extreme, but, in some cases, it’s preferable to compromising your company’s sensitive information. BYOD is a part of today’s reality already, and it is high time to figure out how to deal with it.