BYOD – Harnessing the Opportunity Securely

The use of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet computers and laptops has transformed the way we run our personal lives and now they are having a huge impact on our work lives too. Mark Danton, general manager, Global Security Programme, BT, talks about the issues facing financial institutions as they weigh possible gains in productivity against the security risks.

Guest author

October 15, 2012

3 Min Read
BYOD – Harnessing the Opportunity Securely
Tablets are increasingly popular

The good news is that both IT departments and users of mobile technology believe in the benefits of technology consumerisation.  A BT survey found that nearly half of employees believe they are more productive as a result of being able to use their own devices at work.

IT decision makers are in agreement.  Nearly 60 percent of those surveyed think mobility and consumerisation can lead to increased productivity and efficiency.  84 percent of IT decision makers believe that companies with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy enjoy a competitive advantage.

The rise of BYOD seems to herald a move towards a new IT model where barriers between the individual and the workplace are removed and personal technology is linked to the corporate network.

While IT decision makers and employees are in agreement about the potential benefits of BYOD, their views differ in a very important area: the risks involved and how to manage these risks.

Our survey found that one in three employees see ‘no risk’ in using their own mobile device in a work context.  However, nearly half of IT managers claimed to have encountered BYOD related security issues.

In the past when an employee was issued with a company device, it was typically locked down and tightly secured. The trend towards BYOD means a company is not able to do this and has to learn to integrate, regulate and secure a wide variety of devices that they do not own, nor hope to fully control.

BYOD blurs the lines of distinction between work and personal lives like never before with employees adding their own apps to devices they use for work, not all of which may be trustworthy.  These apps might also be used by friends and family – increasing the potential for a compromise in security.

So how do employees and IT departments capture the benefits of BYOD while managing the security risks, many of which they may not have seen before?

Fortunately help is at hand in the form of Ashley Furness, CRM Market Analyst at Software Advice, who suggests four simple strategies that companies should adopt to protect themselves from BYOD-related risks:

  • Encrypt all data: to curb the risk of employees who use a laptop to connect to the company’s network through an unencrypted connection, a company should distribute Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions for all mobile devices

  • Have a plan for lost or stolen devices: including changing email, dropbox and other passwords and installing remote wiping and locking tools

  • Monitor and control network use: a mobile device management solution can keep an eye on network bottlenecks and ensure compliance with BYOD.  Systems can track when a device signs in, what users access and whether it is configured with the appropriate security software

  • Install anti-malware/virus infrastructure and educate users: malicious software can unleash havoc on a company’s security if an infected mobile device is connected to a network or email.  Anti-virus and anti-malware systems can combat this.

It seems inevitable that the shift towards BYOD will continue.   Harnessing its true potential while effectively managing any security risks could prove to be a real boon to companies.

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