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There Are Some Pretty Serious Security and Cost Issues with BYOD

Posted by Henry Cheang | July 4, 2014 8:00 AM

BYOD: The trend that can’t be ignored by IT managers

By now, if you’re an IT manager of any stripe, you will at least have heard about BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. As we’ve written before, employees across most/all industries are bringing more personal computing devices to work for actual work purposes than ever before. If anything, it’s a really huge trend that is likely to experience further explosive growth, whether we like it or not.

BYODOn an intuitive level, it makes a lot of sense that employees have fallen in love with BYOD. There’s no small amount of appeal in making use of devices and applications that are customized to one’s own preferences, after all. The thing is, this bit of convenience and familiarity can be a real nightmare for the IT managers whose remit is to manage mobile devices and, more importantly, mobile security! At least half of the problem comes from a lack of resources. But, as InformationWeek discovered recently, the other half comes down to lack of proper awareness/preparedness!

Some pretty scary statistics

Basically, InformationWeek recruited 424 North American business technology decision-makers to participate to participate in a survey on mobile device management in their firms. The results that came back were jaw-dropping:

  • 88% of respondents allowed or will soon be allowing their employees to engage in BYOD, but only 39% of the respondents actually had mobile device management systems in place!
  • 78% of respondents said their top mobile security concern was lost/stolen devices, and with good reason: 45% actually experienced enterprise/corporate/organization data loss within the previous 12 months!
  • 46% of respondents required a power-on password as an authentication mechanism for mobile devices that access enterprise data/networks
  • 45% of respondents allowed their employees to bring in any device and access the organization’s network provided the employees agreed to abide by policy. This becomes much more troublesome when one notes that there was no real enforcement of the policies – the procedure operated on trust.
  • An unbelievable 28% of respondents thought that there were no regulations with which they must comply!
  • The primary reason cited (in 2013) by IT managers for not having encryption/some sort of security for mobile devices was a lack of pertinent skills!

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A costly approach, one way or the other

Based on the statistics above, it’s pretty obvious that BYOD poses some very, very serious risks to organizations continent-wide. And that risk will rise, since the number of BYOD devices is booming. The trend is currently so popular that employees adopt it even if it’s against the wishes of management. Putting a dollar figure to all of that risk is much harder, of course, and I currently don’t have any figures (and I really, really don’t want to have to be the one to calculate that). That said, Aberdeen has crunched the numbers and arrived at a pretty startling statistic.

To wit, a company that adopts BYOD will likely spend an extra $170,000 per year if there were 1,000 mobile devices in the firm. That’s the salary of several junior-to-mid level employees’ right there. All of this extra cost comes from the hidden costs associated with management BYOD (if it’s managed at all – remember, only 39% of the InformationWeek respondents actually had a plan in place). And just what are the hidden costs?

Well, the big ones are higher per-user costs and the cost of filing expense reports. Companies still largely reimburse their employees for their BYOD use. Because it’s an individual consumer plan, the device is costing the company retail prices. On top of that, processing for reimbursement isn’t free – even if a machine-machine process is in place to automate it all.

Beyond that, the job of the company’s help desk becomes much, much harder. Under BYOD, the user chooses whatever s/he wants. What are the odds that the help desk will be qualified to handle all models and makes, or that it’d even have access to help materials? The answer, in short, is that the odds are very, very low.

So, what to do?

Well, going back is going to be difficult, especially since the trend is still exploding. For the time being, you’re going to have institute some BYOD policies and become educated on the challenges for managing BYOD ASAP. Here are some tips:     

  • Keep control of company data!
o   Require a password for applications and devices
o   Restrict access by status, department, and location
o   Restrict IT support for BYOD devices
o   Define guidelines for VPN connectivity and sharing permission
  • Create and maintain strict reimbursement policies based on:
o   Employee type
o   Usage habits and limits
  • Protect devices and data
o   Set a timeframe for reporting lost and stolen devices
o   Prohibit jailbroken devices
o   Require users to use corporate approved anti-malware applications
o   Recommend approved apps for business use

If you need assistance managing your mobile devices, contact us! We’re Cimpl, Canada’s leader in IT and telecom expense management. Our signature product Cimpl was designed with managing wireless and mobility in mind. We will help navigate the intricacies of the BYOD age!

 

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Topics: BYOD, Wireless management, Mobile Devices, Data

Written by Henry Cheang

Henry has a lifelong passion for science and technology. This enthusiasm is put to good use in a cutting-edge software company like Cimpl. As product marketer, Henry researches market and user needs to develop user and buyer personas, contributes to product design, and helps coordinate product messaging. Henry also writes nearly the entirety of all documentation for Cimpl’s many successful platforms. In his spare time, Henry devotes much energy to family, friends, and martial arts. Henry recently completed his Master’s in Business and Administration from Concordia University, where he specialized in the study of marketing, organizational behavior, and corporate governance. He has authored academic papers on the latter two subjects; these papers form part of his bibliography of over 20 professional research publications.

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