BYOD (Bring Your Own Device): Five Things to Consider

English: A pile of mobile devices including sm...In the five or so years since BYOD (meaning Bring Your Own Device) first emerged as an acronym, the proliferation of devices such as tablet computers and smartphones has led to an increasing tendency among organizations to allow employees to bring their own devices to work and connect them to the organization’s network. The BYOD movement is showing no signs of slowing. In addition to corporate offices of all sizes, state governments, county offices and city halls are altering their policies to permit personally owned mobile devices in the workplace and use of those devices to access proprietary information and applications.

The reason? The benefits of BYOD are undeniable—increased productivity for workers, increased efficiency, cost-reduction, time-reduction–the list goes on! However, there have been some areas of concern. In particular, the following five issues with BYOD should be considered before your office enlists a BYOD policy.

Security

Security is one of the top issues associated with BYOD. The flow of company data through employees’ mobile devices does pose a security risk, especially when dealing with sensitive company information. The majority of all BYOD incidents stem from human error—either the employee does not adhere to security policies and allows a breach to take place, or the employee downloads malware onto the device, which can result in a security breach as well. To reduce security risks, organizational security protocols and information responsibility should be clearly explained to each employee that will be performing company tasks on a mobile device.

Privacy

Many offices install monitoring software on employees’ devices if the personal devices will be used to perform office tasks. This has caused concerns among many employees who do not want the company spying on their personal activity on the mobile device, in turn prompting many employees to purchase two mobile devices – one for personal use and one for business use. Companies have utilized separation of work and personal usage to address the privacy issues.

Separation of work and personal use

To address the privacy issues associated with BYOD, many mobile device manufacturers have taken privacy issues into consideration when developing new features. An example of this is the new Samsung Galaxy S5, which includes a system that divides the phone into two separate sections—one for personal use and one for business use. This way, an employer can monitor the business side, while the employee’s personal side stays private.

Ownership/reimbursement

Some offices supply employees with mobile devices while other offices allow employees to use their personal devices. Still others have a hybrid ownership plan, in which the employee and the company jointly own the device. BYOD protocols should clearly define the organization’s device/plan ownership and reimbursement policy.

BYOD policies

BYOD can be safe and secure, as long as a solid security policy is in place, and as long as it is followed by employees, management and IT staff. Monitoring software should be implemented and kept up-to-date with records. Policies should also define encryption, passcodes and authentication measures, and limitations on the number and types of BYOD devices employees are allowed to use.

Chime in! Does your office have a BYOD policy? What part of the policy is working well, and what parts need some change? Comment below or join the BYOD discussion on our LinkedIn Group, The City Clerk Cafe.

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