BYOD- Decision Time

Barack Obama made front page news last year when he openly revealed in an episode of Bear Grylls Goes Wild, that he didn’t know how to use an iPhone. How is it that arguably the most powerful man in the world, cannot master one of the most popular and profitable products in history?

Amusingly demonstrating his inabilities, Obama attempted to take a selfie and instead managed to switch the phone off, but he assures us his iPhone ignorance is necessary. For security reasons the white house don’t use smart phones. Null

Despite being a drastic example, the American government’s security decisions are still relevant when considering your own business direction, whether it be with work-supplied or personal devices. The decisions about what models to supply and use in business are hugely important, and security and financial implications lead the debate. Often large companies supply their workforce with a set device universal to the whole business, this way fixed security and internet regulations are already in place. The alternative is BYOD, where each member of staff brings in their own device to use for work, often the same device they use at home.

The biggest contributory factor in making the decision to bring in your own device is the amount of money and time a company can save. Having to undertake drawn-out research into different phones, contracts and software packages is hugely time consuming. On top of this, learning what software is compatible with which devices, and then making sure you are offered the best price takes up even more time. A further problem is the considerable damage done to a yearly budget when purchasing bulk devices for all your staff. Instead, BYOD can let staff choose individual devices which suit them best, in their own time instead of the company’s. Null

Contrary to this is the ever-present problem with security. Having your workforce managing their own independent devices opens the company up to endless security risks and virus exposure. From signing up to online groups which share personal details to accidentally opening pages which contain software viruses, everything is linked to the company, and thereby the company is put at risk. Once a virus is in the system, it is difficult to remove, and if there is sensitive information in any form stored on the device, it could be exposed.

ZDNet published an article in 2014 asking “why the biggest security risk is the fool within rather than the enemy without” and it is still hugely relevant. The article revealed that 87% of IT Services within businesses using BYOD feel the main security risk comes from “mobile devices in the hands of careless employees”. So is BYOD a sensible decision?
Despite security risks to personal devices, measures can be taken to block software corruption. Email services now allow you to push security settings, which means you have to set a security policy on your phone that your company has to approve, in order to keep both software and hardware safe. By being email centric, you, and therefore the company, are directed away from digital danger. Null

Instead of BYOD, supplying set devices across the board gives companies total control. You can cap spending, data and downloads, which otherwise could be subjected to employee misuse. To a degree, personal devices can have restricted contracts and tariffs, but if the phone is also for personal use, these restrictions can cause disagreements.

The freedom of choice means a BYOD businesses will have a wide range of devices, from iPhones to Nokias. This versatility poses its own problems, as without one set device, there cannot an efficient and dedicated internal support line for technical issues. This would lead device owners to seek help elsewhere, taking up valuable work time and being an expensive fixture long term.

Security risks can be further combated with the adoption of Mobile Device Management. MDM software can house all security settings, which can be opened in the background at any chosen time. This means high security settings can be applied when the device is being used for work purposes, yet can be switched off when you get home. Citrix XenMobile is a great example of successful security management software, increasing productivity for work and personal devices.

The most important thing for businesses considering BYOD, is to outline priorities, whether it be the best security or the most cost-efficient option. Adoption for BYOD is growing as software to combat security concerns continue to prove their merit. And of course, despite this security improvement, Obama won’t be using the latest smart phone anytime soon. Which he doesn’t seem to mind, as he tells us “I’m sure my girls are going to be mortified by my lack of technological prowess.”

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