BYOD: Where’s the Line Between Your Job and Your Life?

I recently read a very interesting article* on the growing BYOD [Bring Your Own Device] trend. The article touted a Gartner [market research] prediction that by 2017, one half of employers worldwide will stop providing digital devices and require employees to bring their own to work. Wow.

Even if it’s only one quarter of employers by then, the implications of such a change are profound for both parties. Wouldn’t we all love the convenience of one PC for all of our stuff?  Wouldn’t life be simpler if we had a single smartphone instead of one for work and one for personal? Wouldn’t companies like to save all that money by having workers pay for the assets needed to perform their jobs?

Maybe not so much. There are some significant considerations on both sides that will require technological as well as legal solutions before this could work.

Security is most obvious. Employers will rightfully want to and in most cases legally have to protect their systems and their data. Device-based security is found wanting in the age of ultra-sophisticated hacking. But what legal right would an employer have to force an employee to install security technologies on their personal device?

PCs have long been vulnerable, but today’s mobile devices are ever more subject to attack – especially smartphones and tablets where people download all kinds of apps. Employees often use insecure public networks, and goodness knows what their kids might do on devices left around the house. Legitimate users with unknowingly compromised devices could introduce havoc to the corporate network.

Leveraging the Cloud could help, but there are still many security concerns there as well. We can certainly expect cloud security to be greatly improved by 2017, but hackers will never rest. And once corporate data is downloaded to an employee’s personal asset, the employer has lost control.

Privacy is another big issue. How would one confidently partition personal data from employer data? Will your employer be able to see what web sites you visit? What apps you use? As with NSA tracking of private citizens, how would you know where and when you might be compromised? Conversely, what about employees’ family members who go on a little snooping expedition on the company network?

There are also productivity concerns. Certain software could restrict what employees can do with their devices, negatively impacting productivity. And what about the right to work? Will qualified workers be legally denied jobs because they don’t personally own the latest and greatest technology that companies define as mandatory work tools? Perhaps iPads will become the digital equivalent of the uniform. What about when employment ends – what happens to the downloaded data, the company software, the network access?

This is a really complex issue that requires much more thought and vetting before BYOD can be successfully implemented on a broad scale. How comfortable would you be integrating your personal devices into your job?

*Thanks to IEEE’s Computer magazine, November 2013 issue

3 Responses to “BYOD: Where’s the Line Between Your Job and Your Life?”

  1. January 7, 2014 at 5:03 am

    There is no easy answer to this. Corporate means policy, information circulation control, and so personal devices should be use with caution on the workplace.
    Additionnally most of us want to keep a personal and a professional device for communicating, as being controlled by our company regarding our personal life is not desirable. A customer doesn’t care about what you do during your free time, he just wants quality delivered in time.

  2. January 8, 2014 at 12:24 am

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and can advise that there are Data Network Security Companies that have already the ability to manage your smart device, so that your personal & company information remain intact, segregated, safe and secure. Yes, there is a contract that companies would have to draw up & have employees agree to, which would protect both parties. With companies using Next Generation Network solutions like Palo Alto Networks Firewalls with Global protect, and Mobile Irons Mobile Device Management, Mobile Application Management & Mobile Content Management, BYOD can be a valuable tool in the work place, and streamline the number of devices we would need to use.

    I do agree with some of my peers when I say that the company should be liable for the insurance of the smart device, or have this as part of the employees remuneration package, which should then include talk time & data usage.

    Technology is in a place now where user of the Mobile Iron solutions can wipe the segregated company information off the smart device, without concern for the personal private data on board, when an employee leaves.

    Secure access via Next Generation Network Firewalls to company information, is two fold and can allow mobile users access to valuable info while on the move at customer venues, and speed up sales and improve turnover & support, generating better customer loyalty. Further, as with good security on the employers network, transparency over all transactions means that control can be exercised, with controlled segregation of users, ensuring employees get what the need only! This is all achieved using Palo Alto’s Global Protect, as you can securely login from anywhere in the world, and utilize the nearest company firewall access, securely !

    Sure we could look at malware being downloaded onto the smart device while at home, but with Palo Alto’s Next Generation Networks Firewalls their visibility at all levels is always on, seeing every inbound or outbound transaction. Should a file be detected that is unknown it is sent to a virtual sandbox thru’ their Wildfire application,so it can be exploited to ascertain if it is malicious Based on the outcome, a certificate is generated to ensure that it can be managed correctly in the future. This is all done in a mere few minutes, making them the most progressive solution out there right now ! This is sent out all other Palo Alto Firewall users so that they can benefit from these discoveries.

    Solutions to implement a safe BOYD deployment are already available, happy reading up on what Palo Alto Networks and Mobile Iron can offer you.

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