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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The benefits of BYOD conversation

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As the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has expanded in recent years, countless firms have been faced with a number of difficult obstacles. While corporate decision-makers and, perhaps even more significantly, their employees have been eager to take advantage of the productivity gains that BYOD offers, they also must navigate the security perils presented by the technology. As numerous industry experts have highlighted, BYOD poses a serious threat to data security, thanks to the greater number of endpoints, diversity of operating systems and employees' resistance to IT oversight.

Implementing the right strategies and the right tools, such as secure file sharing solutions, is critical for firms hoping to gain value from BYOD policies without sacrificing data protection. To this end, it is imperative for firms' leaders to initiate and maintain BYOD conversations.

The perils of silence
The conservation concerning BYOD within the organization should have two primary, overarching goals. First, the firm's leaders need to determine precisely how employees hope to utilize their personal smartphones and tablets for work-related purposes. Second, these decision-makers need to find out how employees feel about the specific security strategies and solutions being considered.

These are critical steps that are often overlooked or ignored. Recent surveys have shown that many businesses have yet to develop or implement official BYOD policies, even as their workers have embraced this strategy. The result is that many companies' workers are using their personal devices to send, receive and access sensitive corporate information without any IT oversight. Consequently, these devices are frequently unsecured, inviting the possibility of a data breach.

Alternatively, businesses will often simply impose BYOD security standards onto their workforce without employee feedback or guidance. While this is a less risky option than a failure to adopt any policy at all, it is still dangerous. If the solutions selected are perceived as unduly burdensome by workers, they may find ways to circumvent these imposed restraints and instead will resort to easier-to-use, less secure options.

Talk it out
To avoid these outcomes, business leaders must engage with both their IT departments and relevant employees, encouraging conversation about the nature of BYOD and how it will affect the company. Without input from those who will actually take part in the BYOD environment, any strategizing about security policies will be largely guesswork and may not account for the company's unique aspects. This can lead to the employee frustration highlighted above, and consequently low adoption rates of preferred security solutions.

An earnest and ongoing conversation, on the other hand, can lead to better informed BYOD decisions, as well as allow for adjustments as time goes on when new threats and opportunities present themselves.

Perhaps even more significantly, by bringing workers into the conversation, decision-makers are able to better demonstrate for these personnel the importance of BYOD security, and therefore encourage greater adoption rates for secure file sharing and other valuable, self-guided data protection options.