When it comes to BYOD (bring your own device) support in organizations, there is often a great divide. From a security perspective, dealing with personal mobile devices on the network can create security holes that are tricky to fix, because locating the source device is not always easy. On the other hand, many organizations realize that personal mobile devices are part of the workplace culture and, if supported with the right policies, can help employees be more productive.
Sadly, a very small percentage of organizations have a formal policy in place when it comes to security and mobile devices, especially for BYOD. This pushes a problem upon IT departments, because they are tasked with both securing the device and also managing the ability to support a wide variety of devices.
From a security perspective, having many Wi-Fi devices (mainly tablets) on the network can create a risk. Employees want to access the corporate network from their device, but managing individual password requests is incredibly time consuming (not to mention the password reset support required). Throw in contractors, temporary employees, vendors and other guests and… you get the idea.
When users are connected with unsecured devices, they are also a risk, as they can inadvertently allow access to the corporate network through malware installed on the device, or in the case of loss or theft. Once the Wi-Fi network has been breached, it will be much easier for unauthorized users to gain access to the network from outside the premises.
The main reluctance arises on the IT infrastructure side. These folks are responsible for securing and troubleshooting all devices that are considered business devices. The certification of business devices is a long and arduous process, and employees are increasingly particular regarding which devices they wish to use.
Here are a few tips for businesses considering extending mobility to more of their workforce through programs like BYOD:
- Put a formal policy in place that defines the company’s rules for mobility.
- Implement a mobile device management solution to secure and manage all devices connecting to the company network.
- Limit the list of devices that you support to lighten the load of the IT team.
Extending mobility to more employees is not all risk and no reward. Internal applications, such as conferencing, expense management, analytics or social media marketing, can help increase productivity and collaboration if implemented properly. It’s much easier to push out new information and marketing content to employees via applications than it is to rely on your company intranet. Some MDM solutions enable app distribution through a secure “enterprise app store”.
Finally, mobile devices can help extend business functionality. We’re seeing this especially in retail, in regard to accepting mobile payments. This type of application can be built to integrate with banking, accounting and other customer-related applications. If you are already investing in a mobile solution, extending this type of functionality to all employees who will benefit from it can yield better ROI.
Are you considering implementing a BYOD policy? What risks concern you?