Industry urged to consider risks and benefits of BYOD

The cyber security graduates are to join the Applied Intelligence business based at sites in London, Guildford and Leeds - image courtesy of BAE Systems.
Companies should decide which devices and providers they will allow and support.

A hardware and data destruction specialist is advising businesses to consider the advantages and downside of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy which allows employees to bring and use their own laptops, tablets and smartphones for work.

Julie Pickersgill, operations director, Advanced Digital Dynamics (ADD).
Julie Pickersgill, operations director, Advanced Digital Dynamics (ADD).

With upwards of 80% growth in global mobile data over the past 24 months – and the number of mobile-connected devices poised to exceed the world’s population – Julie Pickersgill, operations director with Advanced Digital Dynamics (ADD), has the following advice for SMEs:

  1. BYOD can help boost performance, productivity and efficiency because employees can access their work documents when they need to – not only when they are in the office.
  1. Having a BYOD policy enables companies to cost effectively integrate different types of communications on various mobile devices and software platforms.
  1. BYOD can conversely increase the risk of a security breach of important data. Employees leaving the business are not required to hand back the phone or tablet as they own it. This means company applications and other data may still be on their device.
  1. Beware of mobile phone theft with BYOD – losing personal data is problematic enough, but if an employee is also using the device for work, there is also the risk that commercially sensitive information could end up in the wrong hands.
  1. Ensure your IT department can support the varying types of devices and operating systems – something which may be challenging for smaller businesses.
  1. Companies should avoid being swayed by the potential cost savings of a BYOD policy – in that employees, not the company, pays for the devices – as this could be a false economy.
  1. Remember that smartphones and tablets are designed as consumer devices, not as workplace equipment. Issues can arise when devices are replaced with newer and better versions, which can cause problems with IT security issues.
  1. Carefully consider small practical issues, such as unreliable service in some areas. A policy which limits who can use it, simply because of location, may prove difficult to implement.
  1. Ensure the business has robust anti-virus software. While employees would not be downloading applications on their work computer, they may do on their own phone, tablet or laptop – leaving the device, and all the data stored and shared on it, open to an increased risk of attack from a downloaded virus. The company should also decide which devices and providers they will allow and support, so they can respond quickly if an issue arises. Businesses also need to ensure that they can remotely troubleshoot and back-up and restore corporate data on devices
  1. Instead of BYOD, consider offering CYOD – choose your own device – from a range offered by the company. As well as addressing BYOD concerns, CYOD enables businesses to tailor and integrate features with the companies’ phone system so that staff can take and transfer calls.