Access and Feeds

Mobile: BYOD Cause Businesses to Weigh Productivity Benefits Versus Security Risks

By Dick Weisinger

Many organizations are increasingly being faced with the dilemma of how best to address the increasing use of personal devices for work purposes by their employees.  Frank Gillett, Vice President and Principal Analytst at Forrester Research, reports that more than half of workers are using at least three different devices for their work, and many of the devices they are using are their own personal mobile devices.

Randy Cochran, Vice President of Symantec, blogged about the results of a Symantec survey where it was found that 70 per cent of organizations think that smartphones and tablets will increase employee productivity, and 77 per cent reported already seeing productivity gains with their mobile policy implementations.  MobiliSafe reports that a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) mentality at many SMBs has enabled those SMBs to become highly connected.  In fact, 80 percent of employees at SMBs now use either a tablet or a smartphone for their job.

The use of mobile devices is even becoming prevalent in the federal government.  A report by MeriTalk finds that “between telework mandates and the tablet revolution, agencies are leaving the PC behind and supporting an increasingly mobile workforce. Most agencies are rolling out a growing variety of new devices to enhance productivity and mobility.”

But while BYOD policies bring with them benefits in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction, security remains a major concern.  As Tom Clare, senior director of Product Marketing Management at WebSense, points out,  “IT has spent years working on desktop security and trying to prevent data loss over web and email channels–but mobile devices are radically changing the game.  Tablets and iOS devices are replacing corporate laptops as employees bring-their-own-devices to work and access corporate information. These devices open the door to unprecedented loss of sensitive data. IT needs to be concerned about the data that mobile devices access and not the device itself.”

Jason Clark, Chief Security Officer of Websense, said that “The BYOD phenomenon is rapidly circumventing security policies.  It’s difficult to enforce security policies on something you do not control.”

Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, said that “mobile devices put organizations at risk — risks that they do not have the necessary security controls and enforceable policies to address.  It’s also clear that employees are deliberately disabling security controls, which is a serious concern.”
The tide of consumer mobile devices may mean that the BYOD phenomenon is inevitable, but getting the right security policies in place to deal with it may take some time.
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