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Network Security|Do employees really care about BYOD in the workplace?

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Tue, May 22nd, 2012

Many  IT managers  cringe  when employees ask to be allowed access the company server using a personal device like an iPad or smart phone whether to access the company network from home or for other extended access or ease of use reasons. People are so familiar with using social apps at home that they now eagerly want to use this technology in the workplace. So who is really driving this push toward IT  consumerization (BYOD)?.  

Employees not the technology vendors are driving BYOD

Of course vendors benefit hugely as their devices rapidly cross over to the enterprise but  it’s the employee and not the technology vendors like Apple that are pushing to use these devices for work. At the heart of this trend is the simple idea that employees know which tools they want to use to make their work day easier and, hopefully, happier.

Network security issues with BYOD from a device prospective are numerous:

  • Allowing personal devices access to the company network requires IT to spend already scarce time planning, ensuring network security and managing employee-owned devices like iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones, Android tablets, etc. this is in addition to the devices they supply to employees.  This activity consumes an increasing amount of IT time when IT departments are already working under resource and budgetary pressures.

  • Strategically, employee-owned devices with access to the company network are now receptors and repositories for sensitive and confidential company information therefore creating a variety of compliance and security issues. Apart from the issue of introducing malware onto the network, there is also the risk that  employees might share sensitive data in unauthorized ways. For example, a lost smart phone that cannot be wiped remotely can expose sensitive company data .

  • What happens when the employee leaves your company, it's crucial for IT to ensure that all confidential corporate data has been returned to the company  and that the device itself does not contain any  stored information outside of the company’s control.

While data is often the main concern preventing businesses from allowing or extending personal devices adding the use of cloud applications to the equation can actually increase data security especially for smaller companies where technical resources are limited. In these cases, off-premise storage removes the company’s sensitive data from on-premise risks.

The key question to ask is: If employees are asking to use their own tools so they can be more productive in the office or catch up on work after hours, is that such a scary prospect?

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