BYOD for the CIO: Maximize Productivity While Maintaining Security

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Privacy and Legal Aspects of BYOD

On corporate computers and devices, CIOs might worry about employees putting corporate data in Dropbox or similar cloud apps and block the use of such file services via the corporate firewall. On a personal device, however, the end user has a legitimate, personal right to use Dropbox, so this control won't work.

The CIO can insist on installing MDM software so the company can wipe any data, read data, block applications, and even track location. The company may say that they can be trusted but should the end user accept this? After the Snowden leaks, employees are going to be wary of abuses of such technology and wonder what's to stop an administrator tracking the GPS of an employee, even outside of work hours on their private and confidential business.

CIOs and their teams also have to work out, ideally at the start of a BYOD program, what to do in situations where employee phones are included in legal information recovery procedures. If employees have to give up their BYOD phone, will all of their data, including personal emails and pictures, be seized? And what happens if the employee doesn't accept this and resets their phone, wiping all the data including the legally required company data?

The lives of today's workers are not always divided into neat and separate office and home compartments. Many work at home, sometimes on weekends, and often for longer hours, making them more productive than when in the traditional, office-based nine-to-five role. Nowhere is the blur between home and office more evident than in the social and mobile space, where employees mix work and play in their Twitter streams and use the same phone and laptop for Facebook, Netflix and accessing the corporate CRM system.

Over the last decade, employees have begun bringing better personal IT equipment into the office than they have at work, and want to use it for both personal and work activities. Carrying two phones is a hassle, and some might prefer a tablet or an Apple MacBook over their corporate laptop. This powerful and irreversible employee productivity trend is called "the consumerization of IT" and savvy companies are responding with new enterprise mobility programs, of which bring-your-own-device (BYOD) schemes may be a part.

Today's CIO has a lot to do to make BYOD work, starting with a well-designed and communicated policy covering employee privacy rights and a company's right to monitor, access, review, and disclose company data. The CIO must balance the convenience of BYOD and the improved employee productivity with the realities of employee privacy, corporate security, and the use of mobile device management (MDM) software. There are BYOD minefields that must be negotiated by working closely with HR, finance, legal, and business units, as well as dealing with a wide range of impatient and tech-savvy employees who will say (or perhaps shout) "Why doesn't IT get it? How hard can it be? I just want to do my work."

In this slideshow, Sarah Lahav, CEO of SysAid Technologies, takes a closer look at BYOD and offers advice to help CIOs maximize workplace productivity while maintaining corporate security.


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