There is a strong case to be made, based on security and privacy concerns, against allowing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approaches in the enterprise.
But excluding BYOD is not really an option. BYOD is a fact of life, not a go/no-go decision made by the IT department or upper management. Whether IT likes it or not, the ultimate decision is made by the employee.
The good news is that IT departments and vendors are on the case, though there is a long way to go. "Nobody has cracked the code on the best way to support [BYOD]," said Phillip Redman, a research vice president at Gartner. "Most companies like one-size-fits-all solutions. But that is impossible in this case because there is so much diversity It is one of the top inquiries we get at Gartner. It is a huge concern."
There clearly are two layers of concern: The first and most important is developing BYOD platforms that are safe and secure. The secondary issue - which only trails the first by a slim margin - is determining the best ways to make BYOD cost-effective and efficient.
Threading the Needle
In the short term, the challenges are getting deeper. For one thing, applications being used by mobile workers are growing more sophisticated and mission-critical. Consequently, the data is more sensitive and resides in higher value databases and servers. This means that a lost or stolen device offers a more direct path to the organization's crown jewels. Imagine the dangers, for instance, of sophisticated phishing and spear-phishing attacks against personal smartphones that are doing double duty as work devices.
The second reason that things will get more dangerous before they are nailed down is because security and privacy tools must be developed and deployed across a number of operating systems that operate in significantly different ways. There are multiple versions of each of these OSes. That's a lot to nail down.