BYOD: Is it Worth the Risk?

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon has become a highly debated topic in many organizations. While some enterprises are fully enveloped in the BYOD trend, others are hesitant to adopt this new strategy because of the numerous risks associated with it. Regardless, here is what you need to know to be BYOD-ready.

According to Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014, 70% of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018. With such a high volume of mobile devices circulating through offices, many companies are starting to take the initiative to design BYOD corporate strategies. From an organization’s perspective, one of its main priorities is to ensure that its data and other relevant information remains secure, while presenting end-users with the flexibility to access the right services and levels of security on their chosen devices. This raises a very controversial question: How can you operate and regulate a fragmented device environment while still engaging in BYOD practices?

The (partial) answer: Mobile Device Management (MDM). Over the next five years, 65 percent of enterprises will adopt an MDM solution for their corporate liable users, according to Gartner, Inc. Mobile Device Management provides real administrative capabilities to securely view and audit all relevant information, geographically track devices, ‘selectively wipe’ corporate data on stolen/lost devices in addition to a variety of other features. Two of the most important aspects of successful MDM software is its ability to support Apple’s iOS and a number of different platforms. ZDNet highlighted a few MDM suites to look out for in the coming months including AirWatch, Dialogs Smartman Device Management, Fiberlink MaaS360 and Zenprise. The overarching idea behind many of these software platforms is to secure the data, not the device. In order to successfully implement a BYOD strategy, the MDM should provide a ‘happy medium’ between securing data without violating the end-users’ privacy.

Let’s set up a hypothetical: as you are walking to work, you realize that you left your phone on the subway. The lucky person that finds your phone not only potentially has access to all of your contacts, pictures, apps and other downloaded material, but also your MDM platform and any other corporate data that could have been saved on your device. This is one of the many security issues that BYOD brings to the surface. Many MDM platforms have a ‘selective wipe’ feature that immediately erases the corporate content on the device, but even immediately might be too late.

Unfortunately, carelessly misplacing or losing a device is not the final threat to MDM security. Just as the BYOD trend has become increasingly popular, so has another very similar four letter acronym: Bring Your Own Malware (BYOM). According to Trend Micro research, many factors can lead to mobile malware, most commonly, a lack of awareness. Before allowing employees to connect their various devices to the company’s network, administrators need to fully define a BYOD stagey that states the proper and improper uses for each device to ensure the security of the company’s data and other related information.

In addition to various security related issues, the end-user’s privacy is also a highly discussed topic associated with BYOD. Trend Micro describes, “Instead of dealing with procurement and upkeep issues, employers may find themselves dealing with implementation, privacy both of employees’ personal stuff and corporate information comingled on a device.” Does the convenience of using a personal device outweigh the potential privacy issues between employees and the corporation? The answer is far from clear, and at the current state of the consumerization of BYOD, more questions are being raised than answered. Ultimately, it is up to the specific corporation to answer the final question related to BYOD: Is it worth the risk?


Kyle Canter is a Marketing Intern at Myriad Supply. He attends Tulane University, where he studies Marketing. We’re going to miss him very much when he goes back to school and wish him the best!

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