Embracing BYOD and BYON to Reduce Risks
By Sarah Lahav, CEO, SysAid Technologies
The “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend has received a lot of attention in business circles, but BYON – “bring your own network” – is another security risk IT teams should be working proactively to address. In fact, BYON is a far graver threat to corporate security than BYOD, and the best way to counter the risks associated with BYON is to fully embrace BYOD.
Company IT professionals and security officers are right to be concerned about the risks of BYOD and BYON: Lax security practices such as failure to use strong passwords can put sensitive company data at risk when it is stored on employee devices. And the use of unsecured BYON connections can leave confidential data exposed when employees transmit messages or log in to company portals.
But trying to address the risks associated with BYOD and BYON by banning the use of personal devices in the workplace will ultimately prove to be a nonstarter. An increasingly mobile workforce is transforming the way business is conducted, and always-on, always-connected mobile devices are driving the change. In fact, industry analyst Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of employers will stop providing devices to employees altogether and require staff to use their personal devices on the job.
The reason many companies are embracing BYOD is that, in theory, it delivers a win-win: Employees win because they get to use the devices they choose that are increasingly an integral part of their daily lives, and employers win because BYOD expands access to employees and increases job satisfaction. But without robust IT support, neither employees nor employers can achieve a clear win. Instead, employees take chances with company data via BYON connections, leaving employers exposed to more liabilities, which transforms a potential win-win into a lose-lose proposition.
BYOD is inevitable. The IT team’s customers – their employer and its employees – are increasingly demanding the flexibility it delivers. So to address the risks, IT needs to embrace BYOD now, while the trend is evolving, and prepare for emerging technologies like wearables, which will affect enterprise security in the future.
IT departments can counter the threat of BYON by providing WiFi access for employee-owned devices, which gives IT professionals greater control over security. IT departments can provide across-the-board support for social platforms and apps, which will give them a chance to review security protocols. In return for enabling IT to gain greater control over device and network security, employees will receive support, creating a win-win scenario.
In a rapidly evolving technology environment, many IT teams are struggling to keep up, looking for ways to protect their companies and provide the services their customers demand. The BYOD and BYON trends pose daunting challenges for IT, and it’s understandable that the first impulse would be to try to keep the risks at bay by banning the use of personal devices on the job. But these trends aren’t a passing fad: BYOD is a sea-change in IT.
Because the use of personal devices in every facet of life is gaining momentum and will be bolstered by emerging technologies, the time is now for IT organizations to embrace and manage the change. As is often the case in business, identifying what the customer demands and shifting strategies to meet their requirements turns out to be a smart move – for the company, for the customer and for those involved in providing support.