To BYOD or not to BYOD?

The mobile workforce concept is nothing new. Companies have distributed resources which would make their employees work in both business and non-business hours actively and comfortably. 
Bring your own device (BYOD) is a business way to deal with innovation. Organizations are exploiting the expansion of cell phones and tablets by permitting employees to utilize their own gadgets – smart phones, laptops, tablets and USB gadgets – for organization purposes, and also providing access to the organization network for these gadgets. 
Bring your own device is one of the most widespread operational patterns which impacts the enterprise in recent days. With the boom of IT, the evolution of cell phones and tablets and an expanding interest for adaptable portability alternatives, number of organizations are adopting BYOD. This has become a game-changer in the way organizations operate.

The BYOD advantages

  • Employee Satisfaction : The gadget can be accessed by the employee regardless of the place and can connect to the web which would make them associated with the work at all times.
  • Increased Productivity : Employees might be more resourceful when they can utilize the gadgets that they are most comfortable with instead of the ones their organization has under contract. BYOD builds productivity by enhancing employee communication since individuals are more habituated to web-based communications regardless of the place in recent times. 
  • Workforce Mobility : Leads to the role change now called “mobile workers”.
  • Cost Savings : As employee owns, pays for, and is solely responsible for his or her gadget, would lead to cost savings and also decrease in support from organization’s perspective in case of restoration.
  • Availability of employees : Employees can be more available during travel or during non traditional working hours too in addition to working in office hours.
  • Infrastructure Utilization : Companies invest a great deal of time and money into their infrastructures, particularly as more businesses adopt wireless technology and cloud computing services. BYOD ensures these resources are utilized thoroughly.
  • BYOD assures Green initiatives : Less devices, less carbon footprint. While employers may consider BYOD as a cost saving program, many companies have found that BYOD might cost more in the long run, due to the risks involved. Therefore, it is important to assess the likelihood and potential impact of BYOD risks carefully before establishing a BYOD program. 

Risks involved

  • Data Ownership : If the employee is paying for the phone and the plan, who owns the data on it? How can they make sure that their client data is secured? What if the employee quits or is fired? Do they have the right to delete that data from a device that doesn’t belong to the company?
  • Device Liability : Who is liable if the device is lost? What if it is stolen? If the employee was using it for work when it was broken, who will replace it?
  • High data usage costs : When an organization bears the costs, employees making out of country calls and consuming all of limited data plans can pose a serious issue. Other hidden costs include IT department training for support and help desk.
  • Client-Employee Relationship : When employee is no longer part of organization whose contact details are known to client, will affect its relationship with the client.
  • Industry compliance issues : Highly-regulated industries may bump into big challenges when it comes to BYOD. Can you create a BYOD environment and still meet compliance standards? Would BYOD subject your organization and/or your employees to liabilities that would not exist under a company-owned device approach? Will you still be able to protect data and information to the level required by laws governing your industry? 
  • Overtaxed shared resources : If several users are tapping into your BYOD network it could slow down load times and decrease employee productivity. You’ll want to be sure you have the proper internal systems in place. 
  • Hardware/Software Compatibility : There is no way to guarantee that employees’ devices will be compatible with company hardware and software. 
  • Multiple Operating Systems/Plans : Without a business-device plan, every employee could potentially have a different phone, operating system, app account, and version of apps. It’s also a potential security risk. The servicing of different types of devices will require many resources which involves time too.
In an overview, this phenomenon, "Bring Your Own Device," or "BYOD," raises a variety of legal issues both for the user and for the corporation. 
Henceforth, Organizations deciding on BYOD need to ensure taking after:
  • Know Your Data : Companies should be aware of the type of data – particularly regulated data like healthy or financial information – that can be stored on or accessed by employees on their mobile devices and whether or not it can be transferred to cloud-based file-sharing applications.
  • Establish a company policy : Create the guidelines which would consider factors like support, security, liability and feasibility to use the device. 
  • Know Your Employees : Companies keep track of employees who genuinely need access to sensitive company data from their devices and what harm it might cause to make of the data. Also overtime payments should not be entertained.
  • Set network expectations : Enhance your network’s security to mitigate risks.
  • Train Your Employees : The force and effectiveness of a BYOD policy should be integrated and maintained through employees’ continuous training of the provisions within the policy as well as the privacy and data security aspects underlying the policy.
Finally, it is organization’s call to go for BYOD or not to BYOD as it can have both pros and cons. If balanced and managed properly and also sufficient enough to handle security issues, then BYOD would be an extraordinary arrangement.

Authored by Suryabhargav R
TCS Enterprise Security and Risk Management

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