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Friday, May 10, 2013

When BYOD becomes mandatory, firms must tread carefully

The trend of BYOD becoming a requirement, rather than option, for workers has significant consequences for both employees and their organizations. Perhaps most notably, this requires firms to tread carefully when devising and deploying data protection strategies.

Category:   Secure File Transfer   Enterprise Mobility

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There is no question that bring your own device (BYOD) is gaining steam within the IT landscape. Firms in every industry are increasingly recognizing the wide-ranging benefits to be gained from this strategy, including improved collaborative abilities and greater worker satisfaction. BYOD is becoming so popular, in fact, that Gartner recently predicted that by 2017, half of all employers will require their employees to utilize their own mobile devices for work-related purposes.

The trend of BYOD becoming a requirement, rather than option, for workers has significant consequences for both employees and their organizations. Perhaps most notably, this requires firms to tread carefully when devising and deploying data protection strategies.

BYOD security
One of the most significant issues which firms must consider when devising a BYOD strategy is security. After all, there is undeniable risk involved when employees use their personal devices to access, send and receive sensitive corporate and client data. Devices may be lost, stolen or compromised by malware, which in turn can lead to a data breach.

Obviously, data protection is also a critical consideration when it comes to corporate-issued devices. However, in this case the organization is able to exert much more control over the safety measures which are installed on the various devices, including remote wipe and lock capabilities.

In BYOD deployments, this is more difficult to achieve, as employees may resist efforts to install such technology on their personal phones and tablets. Firms that push too hard in this regard may find that workers take steps to circumvent installed security solutions and may undercut the employee satisfaction gains that BYOD would otherwise provide.

Careful consideration
The issue becomes trickier when it comes to required BYOD deployments. Because employees working in these circumstances now must use their personal devices for work purposes, they may feel even more resentful of corporate efforts to intrude on the privacy of their personal devices. Yet the potential dangers inherent to BYOD remain unchanged, requiring action on the part of the company if it is to minimize the risk of a data breach.

Firms pursuing such a strategy must therefore exercise extreme caution and care when devising security policies, even more so than they would in an optional BYOD deployment.

For example, decision-makers should take pains to ensure that affected employees are brought into the discussion early on. This will help corporate leaders to develop strategies and leverage tools which are both secure and optimize the end-user experience. Furthermore, by working directly with employees, decision-makers can gain employees' trust, making them less resistant to security policies that may otherwise be seen as impositions.

Additionally, companies need to select secure file sharing solutions that are convenient and easy to use. If the tools require too much effort on the part of employees, workers will be more likely to ignore protocols and find workarounds. If the solutions are low-maintenance, though, employees will have no reason not to utilize the security technology.