Security Remains the Big BYOD Issue

Carl Weinschenk
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Enterprise Mobility Management Myth Busters: Users vs. IT Reality

The bring your own device (BYOD) work arrangement is a half-decade old, and it seems that five years is a good time to take stock. A lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. The changes are to the types and sophistication of security employed to secure BYOD. The constant is the fact that security is, by far, the biggest concern.

Organizations and employees are still seeking a balance. On one hand, for the organization, the idea of bypassing the need to buy and care for huge amounts of devices is as compelling as ever, writes Owen Wheatley, ISG’s Director and Head of the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Sector, for the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, at CIO Insight. It also remains true that employees like their devices, or they wouldn’t have bought them in the first place, so they are gaining as well.

Employee privacy issues remain, but security outpaces privacy as the biggest issue. No matter how BYOD matures, it will always face the vexing question of how to keep data safe.


The earliest stabs at writing security policies were too all-encompassing, according to Raconteur’s Finnbar Toesland. Progress has been made during the past five years in the nuance of these documents. Security technology has also evolved. Raconteur points to the current landscape in which eight layers of security exist: data encryption; password management; protected Web browsing; device wipe capabilities; application controls; malicious app scanning; device location capability; and container/sandboxing of corporate applications.

Much of the old advice about BYOD is still relevant, though. RMON CEO Tim Howard, writing at The New Hampshire Business Review, provided three pieces of advice to organizations facing BYOD decisions. It is solid advice that could have been given five years ago: Have written BYOD policies, implement mobile device management (MDM) software, and train IT personnel for this confusing and potentially dangerous work structure.

There is nothing startlingly new on the BYOD front. It has settled in as a very common and very useful approach, freeing up capital both in terms of buying employee devices and keeping them operating. In some ways, it simplifies mobile management.

But, at the same time, there was and continues to be the sense that letting employees mix business and pleasure in mobile devices they own is not optimal from a security standpoint. The bottom line, however, is that BYOD originally was forced by employees who used their devices to do their work. That hasn’t – and won’t – change.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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