Bringing your own device (BYOD) to work is becoming the rule rather than the exception. It not only helps businesses save on equipment, but also has the advantage of allowing employees to perform more effectively on devices with which they have more familiarity. According to a TechRepublic survey, 62 percent of all businesses were allowing some kind of BYOD by the end of 2013. As the practice grows, people are going to hear a lot more about the upsides and downsides of BYOD.
The pros and cons are largely a reflection of online computing in general. To put it simply (perhaps too simply) there is a tradeoff between efficiency and security. There are multiple security risks involved with employees bringing their devices to work, to the point that risk-averse businesses will not allow the practice. At the same time, however, the benefits of such a setup may outweigh these risks.
One thing to think about… do you trust your employees? This is important not only for when they are your employees, but down the road when they move on to another work situation. You see, if they use their own device, your customers’ contact info, stats, and everything else will go onto said device. If your employee wants to go somewhere else, and you lose some of those customers, chances are that BYOD worked against you.
And even if all your employees are Ned Flanders-y boy scouts, you still have another major security risk with BYOD. More devices being brought into the fold means more opportunities for malware and hacking. BYOD attacks are most definitely going to increase. Quoting from the UnitedLex Market 2014 Overall Outlook, “As personal mobile devices proliferate within the workplace, 2014 will see an increased number of attacks on iOS and Android devices… hacker attacks evolve faster than security.” But despite an accelerating likelihood of attacks, BYOD is going to increase in workplace acceptability for the foreseeable future, strictly because it increases the bottom line. So what is the key to keeping a BYOD configuration both secure and efficient? It is absolutely necessary for a business to keep on the very cutting edge of BYOD security.
MAM vs. MDM
There are several excellent programs available for those businesses who want to reap all the benefits of BYOD while keeping a tight grip on security. Mobile Device Management (MDM) software is – and has been – available for savvy managers looking to get the best of both worlds. But while they are indeed effective, they also may get in the way of efficiency and flexibility.
Even more effective than securing the devices is to secure your own data. This is not easily understood by managers without good computing knowledge, who quite understandably look to the outside devices as the problem. It is indeed important to manage BYOD devices if you own them, but it is far more important to always manage the applications upon which your business is being run, no matter whose device it is. This practice is known as Mobile Application Management (MAM).
Perhaps the best solution is a combination of both genres. It may hinder productivity a bit, but oftentimes good security pays for itself. It may take a few attempts to get things exactly the way you want them. One thing is certain however… you do not want to run a BYOD configuration without some kind of Device Management or Application Management software.
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