BYOD – A Tug of War between System Security and Employee Productivity

By: US Resources

Summary

Irrespective of the nature of business, organizations cannot overlook the impact of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ practice over the workplace, network security, and employee productivity. While owning personal devices in the office can be exciting, the workplace usually becomes highly vulnerable to IT related concerns and threats.

Foreword

With the advent of Information Technology, we are not handicapped with the connectivity and portability of communication devices any more. Hundreds of devices and services are available in the market that facilitate 24/7 connectivity. While that can be more than just tempting for almost everybody, it actually carries security threats and concerns that are increasing dramatically.

Talk of the Town

With reference to IT and its enabling features, BYOD is a term that is the talk of the town. It stands for “Bring Your Own Device.” This phrase refers to the idea that employees in most of the organizations have a regular practice of bringing their own portable devices for corporate connectivity. The excessive use of portable devices at the workplace like PDAs, tablets, notebooks, laptops, smart phones, etc. has raised several issues.

Dual Faced Portability

Many organizations allow their employees to bring their own devices at the workplace. It saves employees from the headache of maintaining two separate devices, one for personal use and the other for corporate connectivity. The practice is indeed reducing organizations’ costs of purchasing and maintaining employee devices. Therefore, it is a win-win situation for both when it comes to cost. However this is not the end of the story.

BYOD practice has posed constant security threats for IT specialists at every organization that has this policy. When employees use their own devices for corporate connectivity, governance and strict implementation always arise as issues to look after. An organization’s upper management with the collaboration of IT teams then devises a framework of network security and expects employees to abide by all the rules laid down by the policy.

Governance and Implementation

This framework for network security imposes certain requirements and restrictions over employees; for instance, keeping passwords on devices, not installing certain applications that may pose a threat to system security, limiting access to specific websites only, etc. In addition, the IT department also conducts device audits on regular basis in order to make sure that employee practices and device configurations are in line with the company policy.

Data Clouding

Previously, it was only a device that was mobile; you could carry it anywhere and use it in the real sense. However, lately added features and practices are even more advanced that now even data is mobile. With the practice of BYOD, not only do the employees carry their devices with them everywhere, but can also access corporate data from virtually anywhere. This mobility is indeed a big difference in the way one thinks of portability.

The day when the line between personal and professional use of communication devices blurred, was the day when security issues started arising. The accompanying disadvantages of BYOD practice are standing like a wall in front of IT specialists who are in constant endeavor to overcome such security threats. There is no doubt that employee productivity is increasing through BYOD practice, but organizational security concerns cannot be avoided too.